UNSW students take on electric car range world record

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A team comprising of 60 students will challenge a world record this month to prove their electric car is fit for the driving public.

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Credit: Daniel Chen and Glenn Ong, UNSW Sunswift

Students from UNSW are hoping to prove electric vehicles can meet the demands of everyday driving Australians, by attempting to break a 26-year old world record for the fastest electric vehicle over a distance of 500km – on a single battery charge.

Sunswift, the car’s maker and Australia’s top solar car racing team, is hoping is hoping to have its zero-emission solar and battery storage EV on Australian roads within a year, as “a symbol for a new era of sustainable driving”.

The car used solar panels on its roof and hood to charge a 60kg battery. The panels, however, will be switched off during the world-record attempt, leaving the car to run solely on the battery charge.

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Credit: Daniel Chen and Glenn Ong, UNSW Sunswift

The team from Sunswift already have experience in breaking records, with previous models of the car having been used to set a world-record for the fastest solar powered road trip from Perth to Sydney, and a Guinness World Record for the fastest solar car.

Now Sunswift will look to add another record to their collection by raising the existing record of 73 km an hour over 500km.

“Five hundred kilometres is pretty much as far as a normal person would want to drive in a single day”, project director and third-year engineering student Hayden Smith says. “It’s another demonstration that one day you could be driving our car.”

The record attempt is expected to occur at the end of July and almost a quarter of the Sunswift team will make the trip to Victoria to support the world-record attempt.

“For the students, designing and building this car has been an unrivalled hands-on experience that has taken them way beyond classroom learning,” the project’s academic mentor, Dr Graham Doig, says. “The land speed record attempt is really a unique proving ground for the talents of our next-generation engineers.”

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1 Comment
  1. Malcolm Scott 4 years ago

    Will it have the same 60kg battery for this record attempt? Plucking a figure from the air, lets say the battery chemistry provides 200 wh/kg = 12 kWh battery, which packaging space wise is about the same as the battery in the Zero motorcycle. 12 kWh for 500 km requires 42 km/kWh. Impressive!
    And at the other extreme of how far you can go in a production EV, 681.6 km record by a father and son drive of a Tesla Model S with its large battery is also impressive and shows how much progress is being made.

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