There are a number of World solar challenges inviting solar powered cars to compete.  It's rather confusing to the general public, hence, we prefer to call the various challenges by their geographical location, followed by 'solar challenge.  There is also a solar boat called Solar Navigator, which project is trying to set a genuine around the world record.  It could be argued that cars could never set a world record, unless the term is used to describe the top speed.





The World Solar Challenge motivates research and development into harnessing solar energy for future transport needs for many years. Competitors, driven by a motivation to win the greatest solar event in the world, can also rest easy in the knowledge that they are contributing towards a vital search for sustainable transport alternatives for future generations. The space age cars which travel at various speeds between Darwin and Adelaide on the sun's radiation and human's ingenuity alone give people an appreciation of a cleaner, better future using solar energy.


Danish born Adventurer, Hans Thostrup, created the World Solar Challenge. To understand what lead him to this, we should try and understand the man. Born in 1944, Tholstrup became a household name when he became the first person to circumnavigate Australia in a 16 foot open boat.


Years of participating in motor sport around the world, especially car rallies saw Hans busy wasting fuel until the fuel crisis in the late seventies. A new life began when he was inspired to find out how far rather than how fast you could go on a litre of petrol. This led to winning economy runs in cars and the establishment of the world's first economy run for trucks, and proving that driving style can be responsible for 30% of the fuel used in the transport of goods.


Another idea, sponsored by BP, was the crossing of Australia on just solar power. Larry Perkins helped Hans to drive the world's first solar car, the "Quiet Achiever", the 4052 kilometres between Sydney and Perth in 20 days. This, the ultimate energy saving crossing, was ten days faster than that by the first petrol engine car.





Hans was determined to build on these developments and continue to drive on the strength of sunshine. With man's first walk on the moon still fresh in people's memory, the time was ripe for solar invention. He felt that a race was the answer and thus the energy R&D event, the World Solar Challenge, was born.


The first World Solar Challenge was staged in 1987, with a field of 23 fantastic cars led by the GM Sunraycer which completed the trip with an average speed of 67km/h.  The cars in 1990 were a great improvement on 1987. Many competitors returned with the strength of experience, and new entries had another three years of R&D to create and refine their vehicles. The 1990 winner was the Biel team from a Swiss Engineering School. The townsfolk of Biel were responsible for donating one dollar each towards the success of the entry. With a school winning such a prestigious event, the World Solar Challenge became known as "Brain Sport".


1993 saw the 1987 GM Sunraycer record broken. Honda took the honours over Biel, and travelled 803 kilometres in one day. Yet again the entire field was impressive, and a sign of the event growing from strength to strength.


The goal of finishing the World Solar Challenge in four days was realised in 1996, when Honda repeated their performance with another stunning win, and a record average speed of 89.76 km/h. For most other competitors however, the race was far from over, with the remainder of the field spread out over 1700 km of the Stuart Highway. Over the ensuing six days a further 32 of the original 46 competitors would cross the finish line to complete their epic 3000km journey.





Following the 1996 event, Tholstrup sold up. The eventual winner of the bids was the State of South Australia, who announced an event in 1998, however many reasons lead to the "deferment" of the 1998 event, which was eventually run in 1999 under the new leadership of Chris Selwood. The 1999 event saw 43 teams from 14 countries traverse the continent, and the Australian "Aurora" team won the event.


A commitment to support the International Solar Energy Society World Congress in 2001 saw the event restaged once more, with new records set. 2001 also saw the introduction of the "Demonstration Class" which was designed to showcase vehicles exhibiting practical technology that has evolved from the World Solar Challenge.


An in depth evaluation of the aims and outcomes of the event, together with a survey of teams and stake holders showed the World Solar Challenge to be the premier solar car event in the world, with a large majority supporting a biennial program.





The 2003 North American Solar Challenge was a cross-country solar car rayce that was held from July 13 to 23, 2003. The Race ran from Chicago, Illinois, to Claremont, California along old Route 66. Teams faced varied climates, topography and road conditions.  Everything that applies to the Australian challenge applies to the American challenges.  The teams have to work just as hard no matter where the competition.







Known as the ‘Brain-Sport’ of our time, World Solar Challenge entrants will traverse more than 3,000km of the Australian or American continents from tropical Darwin to Adelaide, or from Chicago to California in cars powered by nothing more than the sun.  World Solar Challenges promotes and celebrates education and technical excellence, drawing attention to the imperatives of sustainable transport.


The ‘Challenges’, are to design and build a car capable of crossing Australia or America on the power of daylight, comprehends the most innovative research and development of alternative transport technologies. The World Solar Challenge attracts teams and individuals from corporations and universities all over the world.  Fuelled by the spirit of friendly competition, the World Solar Challenge champions the creative integration of technical and scientific expertise across a wide range of disciplines, providing a focus for bright young minds. These minds are undoubtedly the very people who will deliver these technologies in the future, excelling in the fields of physics, electrochemistry, engineering, mathematics, multi-disciplined learning and personal development.


The interest from the academic world is so great that now almost 100 of the world’s top universities are involved in solar car projects, and creating public awareness of significant environmental issues, this event demonstrates the innovative nature of South Australians as well as promoting the adventure and ecotourism opportunities offered by the State.

One of the unique propositions of the World Solar Challenge is that it is run in one stage. Once competitors have left Darwin at 8am on the first day, they are on their own. Apart from compulsory stops at the seven checkpoints, each team endeavours to travel as far as it can each day, but must make camp by 5pm each evening.


The World Solar Challenge is a celebration of achievement, of courage and the application of scientific knowledge in the field of solar technology. This is the adventure of young people not only dreaming of a safer, smarter, greener world, but of skilled young enthusiasts working to make it a reality.




The 8th World Solar Challenge will depart Darwin on Sunday 25 September 2005. Scrutineering commences on Thursday 22 September, and most teams spend at least a week in Darwin preparing for departure.


Once competitors leave Darwin at 8am on the first day, they are on their own. Apart from compulsory stops at the seven checkpoints, each team endeavours to travel as far as it can each day, but must make camp by 5pm each evening.


Given perfect weather, the world’s best may well achieve their goal of reaching Adelaide in less than four days, but the adventure for most sees them setting up their bush camp, under a billion stars, for a few extra nights.


















A dream can make all the difference under the sun - when a bunch of high school misfits in Hawaii, introduced by their new teacher (Halle Berry), attend a science fair in which they draw up inspiration to build their own solar car and win a trip to compete in the 1990 World Solar Challenge in Australia. One of my favourites NK




The teams below are either established, or considering competing in any of the attractions above.  Please click on the hyperlinks for more information.  Remember, it's not the winning that matters, it's taking part.  Whatever car or result your team produces, simply taking part will be rewarding in terms of learning, achievement and fun.








Aristotle Uni of Thessaloniki, Helios


Faculty of Engineering

Arizona Solar Racing Team - USA

Arizona Solar Racing Team

Ashiya University - Japan

Sky Ace TIGA

Solar Car Project

Auburn University

Sol of Auburn

Sol of Auburn

Aurora Team, Australia


Aurora Vehicle Association

Bochum Solar Car Team

Das SolarCar der Fachhochschule

California Poly S University

SLO Burn  Sidewinder

San Luis Obispo

Cambridge University

Eco Racing Team

Clarkson Uni Solar Car Team, USA

The Solar Knights

Delft University - Holland

NUNA I & II 2003

Dell Winston School

The Hunter

Solar Car Challenge

Desert Rose, Northern Territory Uni


Drexel SunDragon Home Page

Durham University

Solar Car Racing Team

École de technologie supérieure Quebec

Eclipse V (5)

Éclipse Vehicular Solaire 

École Polytechnique de Montréal


Eko-Auto  Poland


Electron Analytic Corporation

Dark Horse

EAC Skunkworks

George Washington University

George Washington Uni Solar Car

Georgia Institute of Technology

Solar Jackets

Solar Jackets

GWAWR Cymru solar car

Solar Car

Heliodet, Germany


Heliodet, Solar Car Team

Helios - Lille, France

Hélios IV

Hautes Etudes d'Ingénieur

Heliox Solar Car Team


Dominic de Vries

Honda Car Company


Illinois State University

Surya, Ratha, Mercury

Illinois State University Team

Iowa State University


Team PrISUm

Jonasun  Japan


Solar Car Paviion

Kansas State University


Solar Car Racing Team


Solar Wing

Los Altos Academy of Engineering

Los Altos Solar Car Team

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



McGill University Monteal, Canada


Team iSun

McMaster University


McMaster Uni Solar Car Project

Messiah College Grantham, Penns

Genesis II

Genesis II Solar Racing Team

Michigan State University


Solar Racing Team

Michigan Technological University

Solar Car Team

Minnesota S Uni-Mankato/Winona S Uni

Minnesota Solar Car Team

North Dakota State University

The Double Deuce

Sunsetters - Solar Race Team

Northwestern University


Northwestern University

Nuon Solar Team, Netherlands

Nuon 3

Het Nuon Solar Team

Osaka Sangyo University, Japan

OSU model S

Solar Car Team

Prairie View A&M University


Sun Panthers

Principia College

RA 6

Principia College Solar Car Team

Purdue University


Purdue University Solar Racing

Queen's University Canada

Radiance  Gemini

Queen's Solar Vehicle Team

Red River College 

Red River Raycer

Red River College Solar Car Team

Rice University

Rice University

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Rose-Hulman Solar Car Team

Southern Illinois Uni Edwardsville

Cougar Cruiser

Southern Illinois University

South Bank University, UK

Mad Dog

South Bank Mad Dog Team

South Dakota School Mines & Tech

Solar Motion

South Dakota Solar Motion Team

Southern Taiwan University Tech

Southern Taiwan Solar Team

Stanford University


Stanford Solar Car Project

Tamagawa University - Japan

Tamagawa Solar Challenge Project

Team Futura, Italy


Team Futura

Team Solaris

 Solaris 1 & 2

Dokuz Eylül & Ege University

Team SunLake - Japan

Phaethon model

Team SunLake TOYOBO

Texas A&M University

Columbia Sunraycer

Texas A&M Motorsports Team

The Power of One  - Toronto


The Xof1 solar car team

Tufts University


Nerd Girls

University of Alberta

University of Alberta Team

University of Arizona


Solar Racing Team

University of Calgary


UC Calgary Solar Car Team

University of California-Berkeley


California Calsol Team

University of Delhi

Project Solaris 

University of Johannesburg

Ilanga II

UK Solar Car website

University of Kansas

Solution, CATalyst

KSU Solar Car Racing Team

University of Kentucky

Gato del Sol II

Solar Car Team

University of Massachusetts 

Spirit of Mass 413

Lowell Solar Racing Team

University of Michigan


University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

Borealis III

U of M Solar Vehicle Project

University of Missouri Columbia

Suntiger VI

The Mizzou Solar Car Project

University of Missouri Rolla

Solar Miner V

Solar Minor Car Team 

University of North Dakota

Subzero 3

Team SubZero

University of Ontario Institute of Tech

UOI Solar Vehicle Team

Uni of New South Wales SCR Team

UNSW Sunswift III

New South Wales SCR Team

University of Patras, Hermes

Solar Car Team

University of Pennsylvania


Penn Solar Racing

University of Queensland


Queensland Solar Team

University of South Australia


SA Solar Car Consortium

University of Tehran

Persian Gazelle

University of Texas at Austin

Solar Steer

Solar Vehicles Team

University of Texas at El Paso



University of Toronto

Blue Sky

Blue Sky Solar Racing

University of Toulouse


Heliotrope Solar Car Team

University of Utah 


Vehicle Design Team Utah

University of Virginia


UVa Solar Car Team

University of Waterloo

Midnight Sun VIII

Midnight Sun Solar Race Team

University of Western Ontario


Sunstang USP Solar Car Team

USP Solar Car Team

USP Solar Car Team

Western Michigan University

Sunseeker 05

W Michigan Solar Car Team

Yale University

The John Lee

Team Lux






1. Chassis - and seating

2. Mechanics - suspension, steering, brakes

3. Motor and drive train

4. Motor controller

5. Solar Array - usually part of body

6. Batteries or fuel cells

7. Electrical System - and instruments

8. Driver Controls - switches, lighting, etc

9. Bodywork - Screen, etc



Rainbow line


Solar Cola for safer Solar car racing drivers


Planet Earth Solar Cola can 330 mil


330ml Earth can - the World in Your Hand




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