A car has traveled a record 1,000 km on a single charge – powered by the sun.
The solar-powered Sunswift 7 averaged nearly 85 km/h (53 mph) in less than 12 hours, setting a Guinness World Record.
The car, designed and built by students at UNSW Sydney, posted a verified time of 11h52.08, completing its record with just eight minutes left.
The Sunswift Racing team completes the challenge at the Australian Automotive Research Center (AARC) in Wensleydale, Victoria, and now holds the record for the ‘Fastest EV over 1000km on a single charge’
The vehicle completed 240 laps of AARC’s Highway Circuit, equivalent to more than driving distance from Sydney to Melbourne, to break the record.
The car stopped only to change drivers every few hours – plus a tire change due to a flat tire and a nerve-wracking battery management repair.
The official honor, and the Guinness World Record certificate, was awarded a few days later after the timing information and car telemetry data were analyzed and confirmed by a team of experts.
Andrea Holden, team manager of Sunswift, a Mechanical Engineering student at UNSW Sydney, said: ‘It feels really weird to think we’ve helped make something that’s the best in the world.
“Two years ago, when we started building this car, everything went into lockdown and there were a lot of difficult moments.
“But it’s so rewarding to see the whole team come together and make so much progress and get us to this great point.
“It was a lot of work, a lot of hours and a lot of stress, but it has all been worth it.
“This world record is a confirmation of all the efforts everyone in the team has put in.”
Sunswift 7 is the latest in a long line of successful solar powered cars from UNSW since the first vehicle was produced in 1996.
It weighs only 500 kg, about a quarter of a Tesla, and boasts impressive efficiency thanks to its aerodynamic design, the efficiency of the motors and the entire drive chain, and incredibly low rolling resistance.
The record attempt was not without drama, with a battery management issue causing the car to come to a complete stop at one point.
Under the rules of the event, the Sunswift 7 was not allowed to stand still for more than 15 minutes at a time – and it took the team 14 minutes and 52 seconds to fix the problem and get back on track.
Team principal, practice professor Richard Hopkins, says the world record shows what is possible and what can be achieved, albeit with a significant weight advantage over cars allowed on public roads, which require a host of features such as airbags and air conditioning systems, which do not include Sunswift 7.
Professor Hopkins won four F1 world titles as Head of Operations at Red Bull, but holds this Guinness record just as high.
He says, ‘This is amazing, unbelievable. Wow. The whole year has been leading up to this point and it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Frankly, we had our doubts whether we would make it.
“So to come here and do what we set out to do is just the most incredible feeling. I’m sure those feelings are shared by the whole team.’
prof. Hopkins paid tribute to the student team, saying: ‘Let’s not forget that these are not the highest paid professional automakers in Stuttgart working for Mercedes. This is a bunch of very clever amateurs who took all the ingredients and put them together brilliantly.
‘I don’t like to call them ‘ordinary’ students. The reason is that UNSW is the top ranked engineering university in Australia and this is the best engineering project within the university. So it attracts the very best.
“But these young men and women are the future and they’ve already shown what they’re capable of here with Sunswift — imagine what they’ll do when we unleash them on the wider world.
“This team focused on ultimate efficiency to break this world record. They have shown what is ultimately achievable if you focus on aerodynamics, rolling resistance and the use of smart materials.
“During this record, energy consumption was just 3.8kWh/100km, while even the most efficient EVs on the road today only get a rating of 15kWh/100km and the average is around 20kWh/100km.
“Sunswift 7 is not a production car of the future as we have compromised on comfort and cost is prohibitive. But we have shown that if you want to make cars more economical, sustainable and environmentally friendly, you can do it.
“I’ve worked in Formula 1 and nobody thinks we’ll be driving F1 cars on the road in five or 10 years. But the technology they’re using in F1 really pushes the boundaries and some of that filters down [to regular vehicles] and that’s what we’re trying to do with Sunswift and what this world record shows is achievable.”
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