University of New South Wales sets a solar electric record

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Students from the University of New South Wales have designed and built a solar powered electric vehicle which recently set a new world speed record for vehicles of its type.

The Sunswift eVe is now the fastest ever electric vehicle to cover a 500 km distance, with an average speed of 106.966 km/h.

The previous record of 73 km/h had stood for 26 years before it was toppled by the 100-strong Sunswift eVe team.

Solar electric carSolar electric car

The record was set back in July at the Australian Automotive Research Centre (AARC) in Victoria, with former V8 Supercar drivers Karl Reindler and Garth Walden behind the wheel. The record was formally acknowledged this month by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the worldwide governing body for motorsport.

Hayden Smith, a third-year engineering student who serves as Sunswift’s project director said moments like this happen rarely.

“It’s not often you can confidently say you made history before you even graduated,” he said. “If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s that you’re never too young to make an impact,” Smith said.

And the impacts might not stop at just a speed record. Since 1996, the UNSW Sunswift team has built four generations of solar-powered vehicles that have set a number of distance and speed records both nationally and globally.

For their fifth generation, Sunswift departed from the futuristic-spaceship style of design and instead built the eVe solar car to more closely resemble a typical coupe.

They are now in the process of modifying the eVe so it can meet Australian road standards and be registered for road driving like any other car.

The Sunswift team are hoping they will be able to take a street-legal eVe out on the road within a year.