PHOTO CAPTION: Record-setting SunSwift solar car is predecessor of the eVe now in development.

Aussie Solar Car Aims to be Street-Legal by Summer

SunSwift set the record for being the fastest solar-powered car over 500 km course, now the team is aiming to make it 'street legal.'

Published: 08-May-2015

It's been nearly 30 years since AeroVironment's landmark SunRaycer set the benchmark for solar car performance in the first Solar Challenge in Australia. Since then, the cars and their technology have been steadily improving to the point that it is now feasible to actually build a road-worthy, high-speed electric car powered entirely by the sun.

That car is the SunSwift eVe, developed by students at the University of New South Wales. Last year, they captured the record for the fastest solar car to cover 500 km on a single charge. Now they are re-engineering it to make it 'street legal' in Australia. In order to meet the country's safety standards, they have to redesign the car, giving it headlights, wipers, side impact barriers, all of which adds weight, requiring improvements also in the electric drive system. As a prototype, the car costs half-a-million Australian dollars; the cost to upgrade: an estimated $100,000AUD.

When complete, hopefully by July - summer in the northern hemisphere, winter south of the Equator - the car will be the first solar-powered EV engineered to not only meet Australia Design Rules, but to boast comfortable passenger amenities, that is if you like driving in a supine position.

Will the car see mass production some day? Not at half a million a copy, of course, but with sufficient orders and scaling, it could be possible to bring that cost down dramatically, just as Toyota appears to have done with the Mirai fuel cell car; only with the Sunswift, your hydrogen fueling station is always just above your head half the day, regardless of where you are, and the fuel is totally free.

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