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UK: Students Build Record-Breaking Solar Electric Car

Sunswift, a team of engineering students from the University of New South Wales, designed and built a car that holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest solar-powered vehicle. In 2011, that car reached a top speed of 88 km/h (55 mph). The team hopes that its newest vehicle, eVe, will break a 20-year-old electric vehicle record for the highest average speed over a 500 km (310 mi) distance. The current record is 73 km/h (45 mph), and the Sunswift team is confident that eVe can beat that by a comfortable margin. For the record attempt on July 23, 2014, the car will only use a fully charged battery bank without help from its solar panels.

Aiming for a Practical Solar Electric Car

Speed vs. distance is one of the trade-offs with electric vehicles. Going fast increases drag, which decreases range. Many “novelty” solar cars are designed for high speeds while most commercial electric cars are optimized for long distances. The Sunswift team wants to create a practical solar electric car that can drive at sustained highway speeds while still providing a respectable range. Winning races and breaking records are nice, but Sunswift has a loftier goal: to revolutionize the car industry. Unlike the “spaceship” designs of the past, eVe is more conventional: a two-door, two passenger car that’s almost street legal.
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