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This Cross-Continent Solar-Only Race Tests Tech of the Future

Hunkered down in labs and workshops is where we imagine a lot of the engineers and innovators that create the latest and greatest technology for our cars. Solar energy has been an idea for creating a self-sufficient vehicle for many years, and while we haven’t seen any on the high-production consumer market that doesn’t mean they aren’t being built and refined. With this cross-continental race, the best solar technology is tested, and it could be the future of the automotive industry.

A solar-only energy source

While there are already fans for Formula 1 and Nascar, this race is far less known. There are three classes for the race that range from practical to efficient to non-competitive, and they are all pretty fun to watch. Imagine getting to drive a car all the way across a continent without having to stop for gas.

Chevrolet Bolt completely covered in solar panels
Chevrolet Bolt powered by solar panels | Daniel McGuire

Catapulting across Australia from Darwin to Adelaide, a total of 3000km. The journey is exciting, stressful, and inspiring. We don’t expect much from solar-powered cars, but these vehicles are paving the way for a future of new technology.

The World Solar Challenge

The World Solar Challenge started out with two creators, Hans Tholstrup and Larry Perkins, who were designing a home-built car that relied completely on solar power. The pair decide to put the car to the true test: driving it across their home continent of Australia. Once the successfully drove their car, affectionately named the Quiet Achiever, all the way across Australia from the west to the east, they decided to promote their journey and encourage others to join them. It was a modest and wholesome beginning for the World Solar Challenge.

A solar-powered race car. | World Solar Challenge
A solar-powered race car. | World Solar Challenge

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A race unlike any other

The World Solar Challenge is unlike any other race on the planet. As the race’s title suggests, the biggest requirements for cars is that they must be powered solely by solar energy. The technology that is developed for the World Solar Challenge and tested in the process of the race are reflected in the automotive industry, from testing hydrogen fuel cells to solar panels for electric car charging, this underrated competition has a big impact on our lives even when we don’t realize it.

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Whether you are a fan of solar-powered cars or not, this race is truly inspiring, and we are excited to see how the challenge affects the automotive world in the years to come. Who knows, we could be seeing a car that relies partially on, or even solely on, the sun for its energy, sometime in the far future.