Australia’s first road-legal solar sports car to hit the road soon

Team of students from UNSW close to creating Australia’s first road legal solar sports car

Sunswift, an ambitious team of undergraduate students from the University of New South Wales, are on the brink of creating the Southern Hemisphere’s first road legal solar sports car.

Having built and raced five generations of solar sports cars, SunSwift’s latest prototype eVe holds the world record for the fastest electric vehicle over a distance of 500 kilometres on a single battery charge. It is one of the world’s first passenger solar sports cars.

Now, the team are taking on the gruelling task of redesigning and rebuilding almost every aspect of the vehicle to make it street legal.

This solar-powered beast recently broke a world speed record for the fastest long-range electric car, averaging 107km/hr for the 500km distance, smashing the previous record that had been set a whole 26 years before.

Business Manager Rob Ireland said the challenge was in creating a solar powered vehicle that met the Australian Design Rules.

“To be able to register the car for the road, we need to include side impact protection, windscreen wipers, headlights and a number of other components,” he told news.com.au.

“Making these changes will add weight to the vehicle, so its energy system will also need an upgrade.”

Mr Ireland said the team wanted to make the vehicle equally as practical, stylish and functional as a regular car.

“To make the vehicle a commercially viable product and not just a science experiment, we need to offer the luxuries found in a petrol powered car,” he said.

“We want a two-seat car that can travel long distances at very high speeds without losing the comfort.”

Australia’s first road legal solar sports car
Currently the battery pack and solar panels mean the car can reach distances of 800km from a single charge

How does the eVe work?

With the solar panels on the roof, the eVe never needs refuelling unlike your conventional car. It charges very effectively, five hours charging on a sunny day give 160 km of range!

Furthermore, even when the sun sets, its high-efficiency lithium-ion battery pack allows you to travel at least 500km without sunlight on a single charge.

And it does all this while still looking smart, sleek and stylish.

“eVe was inspired by a desire to move away from the old, traditional “space-ship” like solar cars,” the team told Anthill about their inspiration to build the car.

“We wanted to create something that was not only efficient, but also had a strong character of practicality and aesthetics.”

“eVe is trying to push the notion that solar and electric vehicles can be appealing, sexy, and desirable,” they added. “We want to build a car that isn’t just good for the environment, but good for the eyes! In terms of how we’re attempting to fill that gap – take a look at the car.”

Sunswift further told us that what sets the eVe apart from other solar-powered cars is that unlike many of its competitors; it focuses on using its power to the most efficient level.

How did Sunswift build the eVe?

The team revealed to Anthill that building the eVe consisted of a series of stages, with some of the notable ones including the following:

  1. Flying the team to New Zealand, to work with Core Builders Composites to build the carbon fibre body
  2. Determining the stringing arrangement for all of their solar cells, and then installing them on the roof of the car
  3. Building and wiring the electrical components – with an emphasis on the battery, battery monitoring system, and motor controllers<

Why do they need the money? Well, you see, for any car to be allowed to set wheels upon on Australian roads, it must adhere to the Australian Design Rules, which also happen to be some of the most rigorous standards in the world.There is not a single solar car that has ever been constructed to such high standards.

Sunswift further disclosed to Anthill that after that, the next major step is to enter the car into the 2015 world solar challenge – an international race from Darwin to Adelaide.

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International