A standard joke about electric cars is "How long can I go before I need to find a Starbucks to charge this?" Well students from Australia's University of New South Wales (UNSW) have come up with a solar-powered electric car that can go over 500 kilometres on a single charge at over 100km/h.
The students recently tried for a world record with their Sunswift car to be the fastest electric vehicle over a 500 kilometre distance on just one battery charge. Having achieved over 100 km/h their attempt bettered the current world record of 73km/h. Still, their achievement is subject to verification by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports (CAMS) but it looks pretty certain that the Sunswift will be the new record holder.
Not even a dollar worth of electricity
The most impressive bit for us about the world record attempt is that the car used only US$0.50 worth of electricity. Using that much to go 500 km? Think of all the petrol they managed not to use and all the petrol stations they didn't have to desperate hope to come across. Seeing how gas prices are never going to be low in the first place, solar-powered electric cars might prove a viable solution that is also attractive to speed freaks.
The attempt saw the car reach a 132km/h top speed. Pretty impressive for a solar-powered vehicle, especially one as power-efficient as this one.
But there are caveats: the car doesn't have (in its current form) heating, air conditioning and the typical safety features of your average consumer vehicle. It also only seats two passengers and its battery takes eight hours to completely charge, whether from a wall outlet or parked in the sun. What do you get? Two hours of driving.
Currently the UNSW is hoping to have their car become the first road-legal solar-powered electric vehicle. From the looks of it, the initial prototype looks promising but will the students be able to fit the usual trappings of a standard vehicle and still remain power-efficient? We'll just have to see.