U-M Solar Car sets new speed record at 105 mph

The University of Michigan Solar Car team is used to winning race after race, but now it's getting used to setting records.

The award-winning car that runs on not only electricity but solar energy it produces itself recently set the speed record for a solar-powered vehicle, hitting 105 mph. It set the record while placing first in the qualifier for the American Solar Challenge, in which U-M has won five of the last nine competitions. But what do you expect from a car with solar panels that could make astronauts jealous?

"It has space-grade solar cells," says Steve Durbin, race manager for the U-M Solar Car team. "These are the solar cells NASA would put on a satellite. Our car is one of the most aerodynamic vehicles on the road. It's five times more aerodynamic than a Corvette."

The c
ar also utilizes cutting edge battery technology supplied by A123 Systems. These batteries are the same types that are being developed for hybrid and electric vehicles. That makes the current version practically incomparable to the late 1980s original that garnered national attention.

The U-M Solar Car team is comprised of 100-120 students, mostly undergraduates, at the university. Of those students, 20 go to the races and only three are drivers. Those three are currently participating in the American Solar Challenge, which will wrap up later this month.

Source: Steve Durbin, race manager for the U-M Solar Car team
Writer: Jon Zemke

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