The SolarX solar car: part 1

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Swinburne University designs a Mad Max-inspired car that could survive in a post-apocalyptic world devoid of fuel or power, writes Clint Steele.

Solar cars have been around for more than 30 years. Most ReNew readers will have seen at least one story about the World Solar Challenge, the solar car race from Darwin to Adelaide (including in the last ReNew!).

Solar cars now readily make this journey every two years. In fact, it may have become a bit passé. There was a time when the event would gain considerable attention, but now it seems less of a challenge and more of a hobby for those with the desire and technical know-how, and the media is less interested.

Perhaps it’s time to take solar cars to the next level.

The idea to make a commercially viable solar car—one that can be sold at a profit and so allow for a sustainable business—is not completely new. There is the Venturi Eclectic, for example (see full article for details).

Of course, there’s a lot more needed than an idea to make something happen. Experience, expertise and commercial nous are essential.

This is the first article in a series about a group of Australians (solar racers, engineering students and business investors) working together to develop a locally produced solarpowered sports car for road use.

The power of solar

Imagine a car that will keep on running as long as the sun keeps rising each day. No matter how far you are from the nearest service station, you can keep driving. That’s the strength of the solar car: complete freedom.

Not only can you keep on going, you know that there is no question of pollution while you drive. Standard electric cars need power from somewhere and this might be a renewable source or not. With a solar car, there is no doubt: it’s clean.

That was the idea from the chairman of Aurora Solar Racing: a Mad Max-inspired car that could survive in a post-apocalyptic world devoid of fuel or power, and designed to show to the world just how powerful solar power can be.

It is intended that the solar car will look and handle like a sports car, with respectable take off and tight handling, to counter some of the common stereotypes about solar cars (slow, poor handling, more like a golf buggy than a real car) and so demonstrate the wider potential of solar power. The plan is that this is a car that could be used for doing the shopping, but also for more exciting things.

Read the full article in ReNew 126, or part 2 of the article here.