Very brief solar car update

During my travels, I temporarily have Internet access for a day or two, and I see that the official World Solar Challenge team list is up. Some teams in my list seem to have dropped out (most notably Megalux, sadly), while other teams which I have never heard of have appeared.

I will update my list after my travels are over. Meanwhile check out what Mostdece has to say. As I continue to travel, this blog will run on queued-up posts for a few more weeks.


June 21 in Solar Cars

June 21 was an eventful day in solar-car racing. The Belgian team revealed their zippy new car:

Nuon Solar Team set a world record, clocking up 882 km in a 12-hour track session.

Eindhoven have also unveiled their new car, and it’s gorgeous! It lacks the “tunnel” of their previous vehicle, and this allows them to seat a family of five:


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.


World Solar Challenge cars to be revealed

Here are the World Solar Challenge solar car teams that have promised a car reveal in the coming weeks (full team list here):

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 are planning to return in 2017. They also raced in the 2016 ESC, coming 2nd. Their new WSC car will be called Punch 2. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 21 June.

NL Solar Team Eindhoven 

This team came 1st in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. They are planning to return in 2017. Their team number (40) is the Eindhoven telephone area code. In December 2016 they had hoped to set a world record by driving 620 miles on a single charge, but this attempt had to be cancelled. However, they did visit the Bay Area in January. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 21 June.

NL Solar Team Twente 

This team came 2nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They are planning to return in 2017. They also raced in the 2016 ESC, coming 1st. Their new WSC car will be called Red Shift. Their team number (21) is a pun and a wish for success in the race (“Twente-One”). They held a competition to pick a name for their new car, and have also revealed their new design. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 23 June.

JP Kogakuin University 

This team came 2nd in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. They are planning to return in 2017. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 29 June.

TW Kaohsiung / Apollo 

This team came 6th in the Cruiser class at WSC 2013, and 9th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. They are planning to return in 2017. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 30 June.

US Stanford Solar Car Project 

This team came 6th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They are planning to return in 2017. Their new WSC car will be called Sundae. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 1 July.

HK Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education 

This team competed in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. They are planning to return in 2017. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 2 July.

US Principia Solar Car Team 

This team came 17th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015, and 5th in the 2016 American Solar Challenge. They are planning to return to WSC in 2017. Their new WSC car will be called Ra X. There have been signs of construction. They also intend to race at FSGP 2017. A car reveal is promised for 3 July.

DE Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

This team came 3rd in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. They are planning to return in 2017. They also entered three cars in the 2016 ESC, coming 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Their car will look like this. There have been signs of construction. They also participated in the Somabay Egyptian Solar Challenge in March. A car reveal is promised for 5 July.

US University of Michigan 

This team came 4th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015, and 1st in the 2016 American Solar Challenge. They are planning to return to WSC in 2017. Their new WSC car will be called Novum. Their team number (2) is a long-standing tradition. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 7 July.

US University of Minnesota 

This team came 5th in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015, and 10th in the 2016 American Solar Challenge. They are planning to return to WSC in 2017. Their new WSC car will be called Eos II. Their team number (35) is a long-standing tradition. There have been signs of construction. A car reveal is promised for 11 July.

NL Nuon Solar Team 

This team came 1st in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They are planning to return in 2017. They also raced in the 2016 Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, coming 1st. Their new WSC car will be called Nuna9. Their team number (3) is a long-standing tradition. There have been signs of construction. They also participated in the Somabay Egyptian Solar Challenge in March. A car reveal is promised for 25 July.

AU Australian National University 

This is a new team in the WSC Challenger class for 2017. They have a rather interesting design. A car reveal is promised for 2 August.


Australia is waiting for the World Solar Challenge teams

Australia is waiting for contestants in the 2017 World Solar Challenge, the premier world contest in sustainable vehicle technology. The average maximum October temperature in the town of Katherine, on the Stuart Highway, is 37.7°C. Road trains are a frequent hazard on the highway, and past races have had to deal with fire as well. Sometimes things go wrong with the car. But it’s still an absolutely fantastic experience!


World Solar Challenge: lighter and lighter

The chart above shows car weights (in kg) for the World Solar Challenge Challenger class, since 2001. In spite of the increasing safety standards and the shift from 3 wheels to 4, weights have trended steadily downwards, which says something about the strength-to-weight ratio of modern composite materials.


Which is the best World Solar Challenge team?

Recently, I saw that someone had asked on the Internet which the best team in the World Solar Challenge was.

For the WSC Challenger class, this is not a difficult question. Nuon Solar Team owns the race, and has won six times out of eight this century (although “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”). The more interesting question is: who is second? There are four main contenders for that honour.

A few years ago, I would have placed Tokai University second. They won the race in 2009 and 2011. However, unless they can reverse the trend, their star seems to be falling.

Michigan are very definitely the best US team. However, they have pointed out themselves that they suffer “the curse of third,” and thus far lack the je ne sais quoi that it takes to win (of course, when they find it, Nuon had better watch out).

The star of Solar Team Twente is rising. They worked their way up to second place in 2015. They could win this year.

Finally, the Belgian team from KU Leuven is also moving up, and I expect them to do very well this year also.

In the WSC Cruiser class, “best” is a fuzzier concept. However, Eindhoven, Bochum, and UNSW/Sunswift have all done consistently well, with Eindhoven winning the last two races.