Dozens of teams from around the world have converged on Darwin for the bi-annual Solar Challenge race for solar vehicles across the Australian Outback, which begins this Sunday.
The 3000 kilometre race, between Darwin and Adelaide, has become a showcase for the latest in solar automotive technology, with some cars capable of speeds of up to 130 kilometres an hour.
This year the race has two classes: small one person cars in the Challenger class which aim to complete the course in the shortest possible time, and a new Cruiser Class category for the “solar car of tomorrow” which could potentially be driven by families.
A leading contender over the last few years is the Sunswift vehicle developed at the University of NSW. The latest eVe model is the fifth vehicle in the evolution of a project which began back in 1996. The previous Sunswift vehicle was third in the Cruiser class in 2013.
From a leading German technical university, Team Bochum came second in the 2013 cruiser race but told the ABC they are hoping to do one better this year.
Their car – SunRiser – looks like a two-seater sports car, with curves reminiscent of a Porsche Boxster.
A joint project by Bochum University of Applied Sciences and ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, it has taken the team of students two years to design and build, driver Raphael Schniewind says.
“For every challenge we’re going to build a new car,” he told the ABC.
“I think we are well prepared for the race.”
The race is expected to conclude in Adelaide on October 25.