CLIMATE CHANGERS - Guinness World Records recognize a land speed record for vehicles powered only by solar panels. This record is currently held by the Sky Ace TIGA from the Ashiya University. The record of 91.332 km/h (56.75 mph) was set on 20 August 2014 at the Shimojishima Airport, in Miyakojima, Okinawa, Japan. The previous record was held by the University of New South Wales with the car Sunswift IV. Its 25-kilogram (55 lb) battery was removed so the vehicle was powered only by its solar panels. The record of 88.8 km/h (55.2 mph) was set on 7 January 2011 at the naval air base HMAS Albatross in Nowra, breaking the record previously held by the General Motors car Sunraycer of 78.3 kilometres per hour (48.7 mph). The record takes place over a flying 500 metres (1,600 ft) stretch, and is the average of two runs in opposite directions.



Land speed records are not cast in stone, but change as time moves on. New teams rise to the challenge and technology advances to move the goal posts. Hence, there have been dozens of fast solar powered cars that at one time or other held the record. And there will be many more.


Just as important and raising the performance bar, is getting manufacturers to build eco cars. Even more important is an infrastructure to replenish expended energy quickly. Our Governments do not seem to realise the urgency of the situation regarding climate change and the need to act now. It seems they would rather wait for as long as they can to allow stakeholders with existing investment in outdated technology to milk the system. Fortunately, most schoolchildren do have financial investments in dinosaur tech, but do know that their future is being compromised by the greedy adults that say they care about them.


Going faster is one way of grabbing attention for global warming. Standing outside parliament buildings with billboards is another. Both effective, but more so if working together as a Climate Changer, lobbying to stop using fossil fuels in favour of renewables.






This month a unique vehicle powered only by nearly 600 SunPower® solar cells will speed down a runway at 65 mph in the Mojave Desert to break a world land speed record for fastest solar car.

“Dawn,” built almost entirely by students at the Prototype Vehicles Lab (PROVE) at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and driven by aerospace engineer Lacey Davis, aims to smash the existing 56 mph record achieved by a car in Japan in 2014, according to Guinness World Records.

Dawn actually doesn’t even have a proper steering wheel, and it definitely doesn’t look like a normal car. It’s an electric vehicle, yet it has no batteries or any other energy storage system.

Faced with the blank page that comes with record racing, the PROVE team had virtually untamed creative license to design a vehicle that has less than 10 percent of the aerodynamic drag of a typical family SUV. Since it’s mostly made of aerospace-grade carbon fiber, it’s so light that a few people can easily pick it up.

The record requirements are simple: It must have four wheels to be called a car, and it has to have a human driver in control at all times. To make it safe, the team added a steel roll cage and a few other innovations, such as an “anti-flip-flap,” which pops up and kills any lift if the wing-shaped body starts to become airborne.

This isn’t something practical you’ll be driving to the store anytime soon, though. PROVE Lab’s mission is simply to show the world what can be done with solar power and a bit of imagination. We deliberately didn't use expensive satellite-grade cells and instead covered the car in the same high efficiency silicon cells SunPower uses in its commercially available solar panels. We want to emphasize that this is technology you can buy and use today, just wrapped up in a futuristic package and doing something slightly bonkers.





Solar Technology: From ‘Impossible’ to ‘Inevitable’

Breaking records is often how we get a meaningful measure on progress in science and technology. Faster, further, higher, better. It’s a tangible demonstration of where we’ve been and where we’re going, and it’s the reason we are drawn to inventions like Solar Impulse 2, the SunPower solar cell powered airplane which set a world record when it became the first solar-powered plane to fly around the world two years ago.

SunPower has long understood the value of applying its innovative technologies to help solar pioneers achieve records, using what it learned to develop better products and to communicate how efficient its technologies are when it comes to helping homeowners, businesses and entire states transition properly to clean energy.

As solar adoption spreads, the cost continues to drop, emissions decrease and people feel positive about achieving a clean energy future.

However, for those of us in the record-breaking business, we’re also pretty familiar with the other type of responses, the, “That’s impossible,” comments. Dawn is a good example, given how often the students have heard that it can’t be done for at least 50 different reasons.

Nobody ever said building a solar car that could cruise at freeway speeds on the same amount of energy that it takes to run a toaster would be easy, but it was always possible — a challenge of perseverance as much as anything. College students know it’s possible, with enough late nights and a slight hit to the GPA! Middle schoolers are just surprised it hasn’t been done already. A 5-year-old simply assumes that all cars will be built like this in the future.

So why is a solar-powered family car taking as long as the infamous flying car to become a reality? It’s not really the energy density of batteries, or any barrier thrown up by the physics of efficiency in photovoltaics. It’s that the “impossible” crowd has had too loud a voice for too long, whatever their motivation.



Schools strikes for the climate in Australia



Companies from Audi to ambitious startups such as Sono Motors are showing it is possible to make an effective solar-battery car for a daily city commute, and if they don’t succeed in being the first to market, then eventually someone else will.

At a larger scale, many battery manufacturers and power utilities are catching on to the logic of using the array on a home or business to store energy for charging electric vehicles. A bewildering range of technologies is converging at this moment in time to make it all not just possible, but economically advantageous, to power our personal transportation with pure clean energy from the sun. There’ll be a quick switch from “impossible” to “inevitable.”

I’ve been involved in solar cars for a decade now, starting with the Sunswift team in Sydney, Australia, where I designed the bodywork for “IVy” as a student, and then as an academic overseeing the development of “eVe.” Both vehicles achieved solar and electric vehicle records and were powered by various evolutions of SunPower’s technology.

PROVE Lab’s car, Dawn, is just the latest in a long line of innovations that use SunPower solar to push the boundaries further out. In about two and a half years, students from 13 different majors at Cal Poly have gone from “impossible” to, we hope, “inevitable” for their own slice of solar power history. We look forward to seeing who will be next to rise to the challenge!  By Graham Doig





SKY ACE TIGA - This speedy red racer was entered in the 2011 WSC by Japan’s Ashiya University. In the end, the Sky Ace Tiga came in fourth place and was one of only seven solar cars to reach the finish line in Adelaide within the allotted time. The clearly visible solar cells lining the top of the car are made of satellite-grade gallium arsenide instead of the more common silicon. The Ashiya University car can reach speeds of up to 94 mph (152 kph) but cruises at around 62 mph (100 kph).



Sunswift iVy fastest solar powered land speed record cars


SUNSWIFT - The Sunwift iVy running at the Global Green Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide in 2009. This race forced the Australian government to raise the speed limit where these small eco cars were going faster than the mainstream traffic.




TIGA - Sky Ace Tiga là một sản phẩm của đại học Nhật Bản Ashiya, chiếc xe ba bánh chạy bằng năng lượng mặt trời này đã đạt được tốc độ 91,7 km/h trong một lần chạy thử tại sân bay Shimojishima, Okinawa vào tháng 8/2014. Người cầm lái là cựu tay đua Kenjiro Shinozuka.







The fastest speed attained by a solar-powered vehicle is 91.332 km/h (56.75 mph) and was achieved by Kenjiro Shinozuka (Japan), who drove Ashiya University's Sky Ace TIGA at Shimojishima Airport, in Miyakojima, Okinawa, Japan, on 20 August 2014.

A product of a project from Japan’s Ashiya University, this solar-powered tricycle achieved 57mph in a run at Shimojishima Airport, Okinawa, in August 2014. It was driven by former rally driver Kenjiro Shinozuka. Strictly speaking, a tricycle is not a car. A car should have four wheels. This is then a three-wheeler or trike record.






With a speed of 88.738 km/h (55.077 mph), the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Sunswift IVy has claimed the Guinness World Record for the fastest solar-powered vehicle. The record-beating run took place on January 7 at HMAS Albatross navy base airstrip in Nowra, Australia, and outdid the previous record-holder by more than 10 km/h (6.2 mph).

Designed and built by UNSW students, Sunswift IVy is a three-wheeled vehicle with a monocoque carbon fiber body, brushless CSIRO 3 phase DC 1800 W motor, solar array producing about 1200 W (the same it takes to run a toaster) and, usually, a 24.75 kg (55.56 lb) lithium ion polymer battery pack. However, as the milestone is for cars powered exclusively by silicon solar cells, the battery was removed for the record attempt.

While students usually drive the car, the record-breaking run was piloted by professional racing driver Barton Mawer and Craig Davis, from electric car company Tesla’s European operations.





The record-beating run took place at 10.32 am. The team wasn’t expecting to get peak sun until noon and therefore wasn’t expecting to break the record so early in the day.

Although the team says they believe they can get the record to over 90 km/h (55.9 mph), they weren’t able to improve on the time in subsequent runs. The arrival of rain at 1.30 pm then prevented any further attempts.

After breaking the record, Mawer said the car handled reasonably well, "although I think I gave the team a bit of a scare when I got up on two wheels on the turn."

Adjudicators from The Guinness Book of World Records were on hand to witness the record-breaking run and have already officially recognized the new record and handed over a certificate. The previous record of 78 km/h (48.5 mph) was set by the GM Sunraycer in 1987.

This isn’t the first time the UNSW's Sunswift IVy has tasted success. It also competed in the 3,000 km (1,864 mile) Global Green Challenge race from Darwin to Adelaide in 2009, winning its category.




FASTEST SOLAR CIRCUMNAVIGATION - On the 4th of May 2012, history was made, as Raphael Domjan, at the helm of a giant of a catamaran powered only by solar panels crossed the finishing line at Monaco to become the first electric boat to sail around the world. MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, known under the project name PlanetSolar, was (@ 2018) the largest solar-powered boat in the world. The vessel was launched on the 31st March 2010, also going into the Guinness Book of World Records. The project was mostly financed by Immo Stroeher, the owner of the boat.







Dell Winston School Solar Car Challenge logo DELL WINSTON SOLAR CAR CHALLENGE

























Sunswift solar powered land speed record holder



The teams below are either established and competed, or have considered competing in one or more of the attractions above.  Please click on the hyperlinks for more information.  Remember, it's not the winning that matters, it's taking part.  Whatever car or result your team produces, simply taking part will be rewarding in terms of learning, achievement and fun. You will also contribute to our collective human knowledge. Thomas Alva Edison helped make the light bulb with every experiment that did not work, so that he could cross it off the list and advance a bit more, until the incandescent light was perfected. Because of that determination we now have LED lighting.






Aristotle Uni of Thessaloniki, Helios


Faculty of Engineering

Arizona Solar Racing Team - USA

Arizona Solar Racing Team

Auburn University

Sol of Auburn

Sol of Auburn

Aurora Team, Australia


Aurora Vehicle Association

Bochum Solar Car Team

Das SolarCar der Fachhochschule

California Poly S University

SLO Burn  Sidewinder

San Luis Obispo

Clarkson Uni Solar Car Team, USA

The Solar Knights

Delft University - Holland

NUNA I & II 2003

Dell Winston School

The Hunter

Solar Car Challenge

Desert Rose, Northern Territory Uni


Drexel SunDragon Home Page

École de technologie supérieure Quebec

Eclipse V (5)

Éclipse Vehicular Solaire 

École Polytechnique de Montréal


Eko-Auto  Poland


Electron Analytic Corporation

Dark Horse

EAC Skunkworks

George Washington University

George Washington Uni Solar Car

Georgia Institute of Technology

Solar Jackets

Solar Jackets

Heliodet, Germany


Heliodet, Solar Car Team

Helios - Lille, France

Hélios IV

Hautes Etudes d'Ingénieur

Honda Car Company


Illinois State University

Surya, Ratha, Mercury

Illinois State University Team

Iowa State University


Team PrISUm

Jonasun  Japan


Solar Car Paviion

Kansas State University


Solar Car Racing Team

Los Altos Academy of Engineering

Los Altos Solar Car Team

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



McGill University Monteal, Canada


Team iSun

McMaster University


McMaster Uni Solar Car Project

Messiah College Grantham, Penns

Genesis II

Genesis II Solar Racing Team

Michigan State University


Solar Racing Team

Michigan Technological University

Solar Car Team

Minnesota S Uni-Mankato/Winona S Uni

Minnesota Solar Car Team

North Dakota State University

The Double Deuce

Sunsetters - Solar Race Team

Northwestern University


Northwestern University

Nuon Solar Team, Netherlands

Nuon 3

Het Nuon Solar Team

Osaka Sangyo University, Japan

OSU model S

Solar Car Team

Prairie View A&M University


Sun Panthers

Principia College

RA 6

Principia College Solar Car Team

Purdue University


Purdue University Solar Racing

Queen's University Canada

Radiance  Gemini

Queen's Solar Vehicle Team

Red River College 

Red River Raycer

Red River College Solar Car Team

Rice University

Rice University

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Rose-Hulman Solar Car Team

Southern Illinois Uni Edwardsville

Cougar Cruiser

Southern Illinois University

South Bank University, UK

Mad Dog

South Bank Mad Dog Team

South Dakota School Mines & Tech

Solar Motion

South Dakota Solar Motion Team

Southern Taiwan University Tech

Southern Taiwan Solar Team

Stanford University


Stanford Solar Car Project

Tamagawa University - Japan

Tamagawa Solar Challenge Project

Team Futura, Italy


Team Futura

Team SunLake - Japan

Phaethon model

Team SunLake TOYOBO

Texas A&M University

Columbia Sunraycer

Texas A&M Motorsports Team

The Power of One  - Toronto


The Xof1 solar car team

Tufts University


Nerd Girls

University of Alberta

University of Alberta Team

University of Arizona


Solar Racing Team

University of Calgary


UC Calgary Solar Car Team

University of California-Berkeley


California Calsol Team

University of Kansas

Solution, CATalyst

KSU Solar Car Racing Team

University of Kentucky

Gato del Sol II

Solar Car Team

University of Massachusetts 

Spirit of Mass 413

Lowell Solar Racing Team

University of Michigan


University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

Borealis III

U of M Solar Vehicle Project

University of Missouri Columbia

Suntiger VI

The Mizzou Solar Car Project

University of Missouri Rolla

Solar Miner V

Solar Minor Car Team 

University of North Dakota

Subzero 3

Team SubZero

University of Ontario Institute of Tech

UOI Solar Vehicle Team

Uni of New South Wales SCR Team

UNSW Sunswift III

New South Wales SCR Team

University of Patras, Hermes

Solar Car Team

University of Pennsylvania


Penn Solar Racing

University of Queensland


Queensland Solar Team

University of South Australia


SA Solar Car Consortium

University of Texas at Austin

Solar Steer

Solar Vehicles Team

University of Texas at El Paso



University of Toronto

Blue Sky

Blue Sky Solar Racing

University of Toulouse


Heliotrope Solar Car Team

University of Utah 


Vehicle Design Team Utah

University of Virginia


UVa Solar Car Team

University of Waterloo

Midnight Sun VIII

Midnight Sun Solar Race Team

University of Western Ontario


Sunstang USP Solar Car Team

USP Solar Car Team

USP Solar Car Team

Western Michigan University

Sunseeker 05

W Michigan Solar Car Team

Yale University

The John Lee

Team Lux






1. Chassis - and seating

2. Mechanics - suspension, steering, brakes

3. Motor and drive train

4. Motor controller

5. Solar Array - usually part of body

6. Batteries or fuel cells

7. Electrical System - and instruments

8. Driver Controls - switches, lighting, etc

9. Bodywork - Screen, etc












SunWorld GT solar powered climate changers



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