This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 03, 2005

University of Michigan Wins the North American Solar Challenge

Photo of a low, flat, yellow solar car, its top surface covered with black solar cells, crossing a finish line with a crowd in the background and several people waving checkered flags.

The University of Michigan takes the checkered flag.
Credit: Stefano Paltera/North American Solar Challenge

The University of Michigan held onto a narrow lead over the University of Minnesota on July 27th to win the 2005 North American Solar Challenge. The 2,500-mile solar race—the longest in the world—concluded in Calgary, Canada. Despite racing for 54 hours over the course of the event, the Michigan team finished less than 12 minutes ahead of Minnesota, with an average speed of 46.2 miles per hour (this includes low-speed driving in cities and towns). In contrast, the winners of the 2003 race beat their nearest rival by nearly five hours. The race was sponsored by DOE, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Natural Resources Canada.

Stanford University won the race's "stock" category, in which the cars use lead-acid batteries and less expensive, lower-efficiency solar cells. Despite those limitations, the Stanford team's total racing time was just 14 hours longer than the Michigan team. The Stanford win was particularly impressive after its troubles in the first stage of the race, when it fell more than two hours behind the leading stock solar car. See the press release (PDF 89 KB), the final race standings, and some parting thoughts from the solar racers (in the last entry of "Reports from the Road" by DOE's Richard King). Download Adobe Reader.

Solar racing fans have just under two months to wait for the next big event: the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The 1,864-mile race bisects the country, departing from Darwin on September 25th and ending in Adelaide some four to seven days later. See the World Solar Challenge Web site.