By most engine-powered automotive standards, a car than can run 88.8 km/h (55.2 mph) is best described as a snail trapped in an enormous steel chassis. That’s how far technology has come in today’s world with supercars capable of running over 250 mph on a good day.

But if you take away a car’s engine - the heart and soul of any vehicle – then you’re pretty much stuck with a car that can only go as fast as how hard you push it. That is, unless you rely on another understated energy source, one that, ironically, is the most powerful form of energy in the universe: the sun.

Over the past few years, numerous people have built solar-powered cars with the intention of setting the land-speed record for such a vehicle. Entering the year, the world record for the fastest solar-powered car belonged to the General Motors Sunraycer, a car that clocked in a top speed of 79 km/h while being powered by silicon solar cells back in 1988.

Two weeks into 2011, a team from the University of New South Wales in Australia broke the 22-year old record with the Sunswift Ivy.

Continued after the jump.

Designed by a team of students from the Engineering department of the University of New South Wales, the Sunswift Ivy weighed only a tenth of what an average car would weigh and came with a 98% efficient Brushless CSIRO 3-phase DC motor and an array of 400 silicon cells. To achieve the team’s target speed of 85 km/h, they would only need to generate 1,300 watts of solar generated power. In layman’s parlance, that’s about the same amount of energy as a lot of counter microwaves being sold in department stores have.

When the car was ran at the HMAS Albatross navy base airstrip in Nowra, Australia, the Sunswift Ivy clocked in a top speed of 88.8 km/h (55.2 mph), a little under nine km/h faster than the previous record.

Piloting the Sunswift Ivy during its Guiness-certified record-setting run included Barton Mawer and Craig Davis, both of whom are racing drivers from Tesla.

As with all other records of this magnitude, the attempt to chase and surpass a record comes with a steep price. In this case, that involves the amount of money spent on the whole project, which, was estimated to be around AUD $280,000, or about $284,000 based on current exchange rates.

Seeing as the previous record lasted 22 years without the advantages of technological advancements, it’s highly unlikely that the Sunswift Ivy’s record as the fastest solar-powered car in the world won’t last as long as it’s predecessor. Who knows, we might even see a solar-powered car break the 100 km/h barrier pretty soon.

In the meantime, though, the record belongs to the Sunswift Ivy after earning each and every source of speed it’s solar-powered-ness could handle.

What do you think?
Show Comments


  (577) posted on 06.4.2012

I didn’t even think that it is a vehicle when I first laid my eyes upon it.

  (541) posted on 06.1.2012

Whoa, I guess as long as something can run, it can be called a vehicle no matter how crazy it looks!

  (473) posted on 05.4.2012

I can’t believe it. Nothing of it resembles a car, except its wheels. But okay, I’ll acknowledge its speedy run!

  (382) posted on 04.25.2012

It’s the best example of a work of art. Congratulations to the people behind this idea. I hope they could make it again some time in the future.

  (383) posted on 02.29.2012

It’s an ingenious innovation not only by car enthusiasts but also by environmentalists. The speed is terrific; it almost looks surreal watching it. However, the price is too expensive even though many wanted this, they probably can’t afford it anyway.

  (714) posted on 01.27.2012

It’s amazing the fastest solar-powered car. I really like the creative concept of car because it’s eco-friendly and help reduce pollution.

  (798) posted on 08.9.2011

Yeah, it a great thing that there a lot that wanted to invent a eco-friendly fuel to help the environment! I think with a extensive and further research this production vehicle would be reliable.

  (504) posted on 08.9.2011

Impressive! There’s no other good idea than using a natural resources! The performance of the car is kind of impressive! I want to congratulate the team behind this invention.

  (474) posted on 07.20.2011

I acknowledge the effort this team had done. It’s a good thing they promote this kind of auto for it will reduce the pollution in our environment. However, about its speed performance, it is quite impressive since it is a solar car.

  (580) posted on 06.6.2011

I am still not convinced on how will solar powered vehicles will dominate the busy streets or highways. Maybe there should be more detailed explanation on how it will works.

  (714) posted on 06.2.2011

I am sure that this thing would become one of the most expensive creation of today’s generation. Unluckily, many of us can’t afford to have this one. But, this team should be given a recognition.

  (212) posted on 05.13.2011

A car that can be run by solar energy would be the greatest invention in the world of auto industry aside from electric car. However, i think its invention would lead to the bankruptcy of car companies.

  (446) posted on 05.13.2011

Wow! This concept is kind of unique! I never heard any car that was powered with solar energy. However, the reliability of this car would be an issue plus the safety! But I have a feeling that this car would sell like hotcakes if studied very well.

  (541) posted on 05.6.2011

the solar type cars should be studied more, I mean the speed and how can you minimize that solar panel but can still give a better performance, it can be a great help for every nation instead of using electricity or fuel don’t you think?

  (228) posted on 04.28.2011

I really admire those people that can think of alternative solution using abundant resource. I would say that the sun raycer seems to be more reliable compare to electric carssmiley

  (32) posted on 03.28.2011

congratulations to the team. Its a breakthrough which may lead to a new source of energy on roads. Of course there need to be much research and development that goes through to make it a real car, that can accommodate people and luggage. This will definitely help research go a few milestones ahead.

  (329) posted on 03.15.2011

Yup, the biggest problems with solar cars is that you need to reduce the size of the panels in order to make way for other components. Once they have solved that, then we are definitely on to something.

  (410) posted on 03.7.2011

Solar cars would definitely make goof city rides, since you really won’t have to worry about fuel costs. But then again, they should also start finding ways to put a luggage compartment on these.

  (692) posted on 02.14.2011

Congratulations to this team! Hope they will a production for this car! and hope it helps to decrease the use of diesel and gas that is bad to our environment.

  (427) posted on 02.14.2011

Wow! what a cool technology! Sun probably is one of the main energy source in our planet. And i was so amazed to this group of people think about this unique idea!

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