The Dutch Nuon team takes top honors in Australia’s World Solar Challenge, covering the 1,880-mile (3,020-km) distance from Darwin to Adelaide in 33 hours and 17 minutes at an average speed of 57 mph (92 km/h).
It is the fourth win for the team, which holds the race record at 29 hours and 11 minutes.
There was drama at this year’s race, as Stanford University’s car crashed and rolled after a blowing a tire near the small Outback town of Marla. The vehicle reportedly was traveling at a low speed and the driver was unhurt.
Organizers of the race, which took place Oct. 21-28, presented awards in three classes: Challenge and Adventure for solar cars and Greenfleet Technology for clean, green road vehicles with low-emissions technologies.
A change in design rules in this year’s race failed to put the brakes on the Dutch team’s Nuna4 car.
“We work so hard for this,” Nuna4 driver Oliver van der Meer said after winning the race. “Our heart, blood, sweat and tears are in that car.”
Cars this year were allowed to have only 65 sq.-ft. (6 sq.-m) of solar panels, down from the previous 86 sq.-ft. (8 sq.-m). Vehicles also had to be designed so that drivers sat in a more traditional upright position – a change that affected aerodynamics.
The Umicar Infinity car from Belgium’s Umicore Solar Team came in second overall, completing the trip in 34 hours and 36 minutes.
Third place went to the domestic entry Aurora 101 from Victoria, which finished in 35 hours and 17 minutes.
The Smart Fortwo, which achieved fuel economy of 52 mpg (4.6 L/100 km), was the winner of the Greenfleet Technology class for commercially available vehicles.
The car was driven by three non-professional drivers and hit a top speed of 81 mph (130 km/h).
Vehicles participating in the event were allowed to be driven between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm.
Hyundai Motor Co. Australia Pty. Ltd. says its new Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi turbodiesel beat an array of diesel and hybrid rivals to top the fuel efficiency stakes in the Greenfleet class. The vehicle achieved 74 mpg (3.2 L/100 km) and 97 g/km of carbon-dioxide emissions.
Hyundai Australia Sales and Marketing Director Kevin McCann says the i30 is Australia’s newest and most affordable diesel-passenger car, with a retail price starting at A$21,490 ($19,760) that offers a savings of more than A$15,000 ($13,800) compared with the Prius.
The Prius recorded fuel economy of 42 mpg (5.6 L/100 km) and emitted 146 g/km of CO2, while the Peugeot 207 HDi achieved 60 mpg (3.9 L/100 km) and 118 g/km of CO2.
The Aurora 101 team garnered two awards: the spirit of the event and best production-class vehicle.
General Motors Corp. and GM Holden Ltd. gave support to cars in the event as part of their interest in potential future fuel needs and energy efficiencies. The GM-backed entrants included a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, sun-powered solar cars and a production car running on E85, a 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline blend.
GM Holden says it is experimenting with a diesel Commodore, but with development and tooling costs totaling A$50 million ($48 million), it is too expensive to put the vehicle into production.