A team from the Netherlands has won a gruelling 2,000-mile race across the Australian outback powered by nothing but the sun.
The Nuon team, from the Delft University of Technology, triumphed in the World Solar Challenge after powering their one-person car from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south in five days.
Their average speed was over 56mph, with a team from Japan’s Tokai University in second. They both finished a day ahead of the remainder of around 40 teams set to complete the race.
A Nuon spokesman, speaking from the finish line in Adelaide, said they believed they had won because of how precise their calculations were during the race.
They said: “We predict every second of the race. We know exactly what weather is going to be where, how much is going to be in our battery and how much energy we’re going to use with the speed we’re driving at.
“We actually calculated everything so that our battery would be fully empty finishing here and so that we could drive at the highest speed possible.”
The World Solar Challenge is held every two years, although this was the first time that cars have been required to have four wheels rather than three to make the technology more relevant for the real world.
The change in the rules resulted in slower times from the finishers, who raced between 8am and 5pm each day in what is Australia’s spring season.
Another class of vehicles more like real cars, called the Cruiser Class, was also added to the competition.
Race observer Peter Greeneklee told ABC news: “It’s a famous race around the world, because it’s the only race for solarcars that take them right across the continent. The cruiser class is a new innovation this year. It’s a set of eight vehicles that look more like conventional cars and they carry passengers. They’re not as fast as the cars that are built solely to get across the continent as fast as possible, but the cruiser class is moving the event towards a more conventional sort of vehicle.”