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Meet the IVy: The world’s fastest solar-powered vehicle

The Sunswift IVy clocks an average speed faster than any other solar vehicle… at a not-mind-melting 55mph.

A TEAM OF AUSTRALIAN engineering students and lecturers has claimed the new land speed record for a solar-powered vehicle, after their college project achieved an average speed of just over 55mph (88.8kmph).

The Sunswift IVy car (pronounced ‘Ivy’), powered by 400 silicon cells, is the project of a group of students from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Their car set the new world record at a navy base in New South Wales earlier this week, making two 500m runs within an hour, and breaking the record set in 1988 by General Motors’ purpose-built ‘Sunraycer’.

What is perhaps more remarkable about the vehicle, however, is the fact that the car made its world-record journey by generating an estimated 1050 watts of energy – as much electricity as you might need, CNN suggests, to toast a slice of bread.

Despite its low energy usage, the car is still the same size as an average family saloon – the main difference being that the single-passenger vehicle is only about a tenth of the weight of an average vehicle.

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The AU$280,000 (€215,000) car has now been officially entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, though its speed still pales in comparison to the overall land speed record of 760.343mph, set by Andy Green’s turbofan-powered ThrustSSC in 1997.

The team of student engineers still believe, however, that they can tinker with the car to have its speed reach 90kmph. Their next major opportunity to do so will be at the World Solar Challenge in October – a challenge that the team is already optimistic about meeting.

On the day the new record was set, they claim, it was reasonably cloudy – so if the day in October is clear, the ‘magic’ 90kmph barrier could be breached.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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