U.S. Department of Energy

    Solar Cars to Bisect Australia in a Race that Starts on October 21st

    October 17, 2007


    Photo of a nearly flat, rectangular car covered with solar cells, racing on a track labeled

    Stanford University's new solar car, called "Equinox," prepares for the Panasonic World Solar Challenge on a track in Darwin, Australia.
    Credit: The Stanford Solar Car Project

    The Panasonic World Solar Challenge, a solar car race that bisects the continent of Australia, starts on October 21st in Darwin, a town in that country's Northern Territory. The 20th-anniversary race will cover 3,010 kilometers—about 1,870 miles—as it heads south through the outback, ending in Adelaide, South Australia, on October 28th (although the first cars should start arriving on October 25th). The event features two classes of solar racers: the "Adventure Class" that features veteran solar cars and the "Challenge Class" that features new cars with more practical features, including upright seating and solar panels that don't exceed 6 square meters in total area.

    Forty-one solar cars are racing in the international event, including four from the United States. The University of Michigan and Oregon State University will race in the Challenge Class, while Stanford University and the Houston Solar Car Race Team will race in the Adventure Class. The Houston team is a high school team from the Houston Vocational Center in Houston, Mississippi. Their car has previously raced in two solar races in the United States: the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge and the North American Solar Challenge. Many teams were already in Australia prior to the race to gain some road experience. Vehicle inspection or "scrutineering" begins on October 17th, and the official qualifying event will be held on October 20th. See the Panasonic World Solar Challenge Web site; the Web sites for the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, the Oregon State University Solar Vehicle Team, and the Stanford Solar Car Project; and the Web page about the Houston team on the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge Web site.

    Meanwhile, organizers are planning to bring solar car racing back to North America in 2008. The 2008 North American Solar Challenge will cover 2,400 miles as it heads north from Dallas, Texas, to its end point in Calgary, Alberta. The race is scheduled to start in Dallas on July 13th and end in Calgary on July 21st, with an awards ceremony on July 22nd. The Web site currently lists 20 university teams that are participating in the race, including 15 teams from the United States and 5 teams from Canada. See the North American Solar Challenge home page and schedule.