World Solar Challenge car sizes

The infographic above (click to zoom) shows the reported length and width of eight World Solar Challenge cars. The widest car (at 1.8 m) is that of the Swedish MDH Solar Team (although this car has large bites taken out of each side). The two family Cruisers from Eindhoven and Lodz (dashed lines) are also quite wide, and take full advantage of the maximum allowed length of 5 m.

The Belgian Punch Powertrain Solar Team has produced a very short zippy Challenger class car (illustrated), and Nuon’s car (not shown) seems of a similar size. In contrast, Michigan has a long narrow bullet car, powered by GaAs solar cells. Twente, using Si cells, has a substantially longer car than Punch, but a narrower one. It will be very interesting to see how these differences play out in the race, come October.


More World Solar Challenge progress

The open road is calling teams for the 2017 World Solar Challenge, and JU Solar Team (battery box ready for shipping), Lodz Solar Team (battery box), Nuon Solar Team (world record attempt), Solar Team BE (unveiling Punch 2), and Singapore (dashboard design) are hearing that call.

In other news, Solar Team GB have pulled out of the race, and Eindhoven are due to unveil their car in a few hours.


More World Solar Challenge preparations

Across the world, solar car teams continue to prepare for the 2017 World Solar Challenge, turning dreams into functioning vehicles (Instagram memories from Michigan, Belgium, Jönköping, Nuon, Lodz, and me). Meanwhile, the road from Darwin to Adelaide is waiting.

Who’s your local team?


European Solar Challenge 2016 Update

Below, once again, are the 12 solar car teams that will be competing in the European Solar Challenge this year, with revised links to their websites and social media. The ESC will be held at Circuit Zolder in Belgium from September 23 to 25 this year. It will be a 24 hour endurance track race, competing against a (non-solar) Tesla Model S (however, teams may charge their car from mains power up to two times, if they stop for an hour to do so). About half the points for the ESC will come from the number of laps of the track completed. Other points will come from the fastest lap time, a timed chicane challenge on the 23rd, and a presentation about the car. Follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.


Circuit Zolder seen from above (imagery: Landsat, car photo: Anthony Dekker)

The 24 hour track race starts at 13:00 on the 24th, and sunset will be at 19:32 that evening. The sun will rise again at 07:30 the next morning, and the race will continue until 13:00 on the 25th. Long-range weather forecasting suggested that the weather might be cloudy that weekend, but a more up-to-date forecast suggests sun (see diagram below). See also this nearby weathercam (about 8.5 km away, and facing towards the racetrack).


Advance weather forecast for the 24 hour track race

DE  Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

This team came 3rd in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. Bochum are fielding three teams at ESC (racing the Solarworld GT, which drove around the world in 2011/12; the PowerCore SunCruiser from WSC 2013; and the beautiful ThyssenKrupp SunRiser from WSC 2015).

  

GB  Cambridge University 

This team came 22nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. Their car has an interesting teardrop design.

TR  Dokuz Eylül University / Solaris 

This team came 25th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

CO  EAFIT / Cambria 

This is a new team. They have posted a nice team overview video.

IT  Futuro Solare 

This appears to be a relatively new team. Read more about them here. Their car is called Archimede in honour of the famous mathematician of that name, who was a native of Syracuse, the team’s home town.

TR  Istanbul Technical University 

This team came 17th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013. They will be racing a rebuilt version of one of their old Challenger class cars, not the more recent Cruiser shown below.

IT  Onda Solare 

This team came 10th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 10th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. They came 2nd in the Evolución class at the 2016 Carrera Solar Atacama.

BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 

This team came 3rd in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, and 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They will be racing Indupol One, their entry from WSC 2013.

CH  Solar Energy Racers 

This team came 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 11th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. They also participated in this year’s American Solar Challenge. They will be racing their SER-1 car, which was their entry in the 2011 WSC.

NL  Solar Team Twente 

This team came 2nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. Their Red One is the fastest entry in terms of raw speed. Whether that is enough to win the challenge remains to be seen.

Here is the scoring matrix for the event:

  Chicane Fastest Lap 24-hour Race Presentation
1st 20 20 50 10
2nd 15 15 40 8
3rd 10 10 30 6
4th 5 5 20 4
5th 0 0 10 2

This post last updated 11:29 on 23 September 2016 AEST


Sasol Solar Challenge Update

The Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa ( ) is still calling on solar car teams to sign up before the May 1 deadline, but here is my updated list of teams who say they are attending:

Nuon Solar Team (Netherlands)

Nuon won the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge and the 2015 World Solar Challenge. They are the clear favourites for this year’s event.


Nuon’s Nuna7S in South Africa in 2014 (photo: Nuon Solar Team)

Tokai (Japan)

It seems that Tokai will be back in South Africa this year, to challenge Nuon for first place.


The Tokai team in Australia in 2015 (my photo)

North-West University (South Africa)

NWU came 11th in the the 2015 World Solar Challenge, ahead of South African rivals UKZN. They should do well on home turf this year.


NWU’s Sirius X25 in Australia in 2015 (my photo)

Lodz Solar Team (Poland)

The team from Lodz will, I understand, be taking their lovely Eagle One cruiser to South Africa this year.


Eagle One in Australia in 2015 (my photo)

Sheffield Hallam University (UK)

This seems to be a new team, who are building an old-school symmetrical 4-wheel car.

Anadolu Solar Team (Turkey)

Anadolu were in the top 20 at WSC15. If I understand their (Tukish) web page correctly, they are off to South Africa as well.

Not competing this year are UKZN.

Update: Google is reporting the Sasol Solar Challenge website as potentially hacked (and a quick glance at the page HTML makes it clear why), so exercise more than usual caution. Trend Micro, scanurl.net, and urlvoid.com report no major concerns, but the website is of limited value anyway, being mostly about the 2014 race.


WSC Results (3)

Following up on the World Solar Challenge official results, here are the six Cruisers that trailered, plotted by the two most meaningful numbers for such cars – person-kilometres and practicality. The lovely little car from Lodz is clearly the leader of this particular pack and thus, in my opinion, sixth Cruiser overall.

I should also point out this great WSC dataviz by Tiffany Hu, and the superb WSC summary and retrospective by MostDece.


World Solar Challenge: Dark Horses

In the World Solar Challenge, there are three new Challenger class teams and two new Cruiser class teams that have fielded very good-looking vehicles. Together with the teams that have an established racing record, these five new teams might be particularly worth keeping an eye on:

9: Adelaide University (  Australia, Lumen)

This new Australian team has a very nice-looking Challenger class car.

18: MARA University of Technology / EcoPhoton (  Malaysia, Stingray)

This new Malaysian team also has an impressive-looking Challenger class car.

23: Kecskemét College Faculty of GAMF (  Hungary, MegaLux)

This Hungarian car is perhaps the pick of the dark horses in the Challenger class, and blogger MostDece thinks it may even have a shot at winning.

45: KGHM Lodz Solar Team (  Poland, Eagle One)

This new Polish team has produced a very nice-looking Cruiser class car.

88: Kogakuin University (  Japan, OWL)

Kogakuin are not new to the WSC, but they are new to the Cruiser class, and they seem to have made a huge leap forward in terms of professionalism this year. Blogger MostDece is actually calling them favourites to win, ahead of the top three teams from 2013.

So there you have it. Five dark horses which may do very well this year. Click on the symbol for detailed team profiles of these five teams, or click on the team social media icons for more information about what they are up to.