Solar Cars - the Race of the Future
Every year, in different parts of the world, a special car race is held. As different from most races, the cars do not use large amount of high-octane fuel. The difference with these races is that all the cars use only one power source - the sun.
There is the North American Solar Challenge a 2400 mile solar car race from Dallas, Texas to Calgary, Alberta. University studens design, build and then race their solar cars.
The futuristic designs raised eyebrows as they raced from USA to Canada. According to the race rules, the cars had to run on 1kW -about the same amount as a hair dryer, and cruise at highway speeds.
In other words, most cars use 150 horsepower to cruise, and the superlight solar cars were doing the same with 2 horsepower. The top speed recorded for a solar car was 80mph.
Another solar car race is Panasonic World challenge. Since 1987 teams from around the world have gathered to race 3000 miles across the great plains of Australia.
There are no design boundaries for this race - only that the cars have to be stricly solar powered.
Teams admitted that mainstream car technology was 'probably decades' away. However, possibilities for solar assisted cars are closer. And the lesson learned - balancing fuel efficiency, aerodynamics and endurance, can be applied to cars today.
Related Links: Solar Car Race Australia