With a speed of 88.738 km/h (55.077 mph), the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Sunswift IVy has claimed the Guinness World Record for the fastest solar-powered vehicle. The record-beating run took place on January 7 at HMAS Albatross navy base airstrip in Nowra, Australia, and outdid the previous record-holder by more than 10 km/h (6.2 mph).
Designed and built by UNSW students, Sunswift IVy is a three-wheeled vehicle with a monocoque carbon fiber body, brushless CSIRO 3 phase DC 1800 W motor, solar array producing about 1200 W (the same it takes to run a toaster) and, usually, a 24.75 kg (55.56 lb) lithium ion polymer battery pack. However, as the milestone is for cars powered exclusively by silicon solar cells, the battery was removed for the record attempt.
While students usually drive the car, the record-breaking run was piloted by professional racing driver Barton Mawer and Craig Davis, from electric car company Tesla’s European operations.
The record-beating run took place at 10.32 am. The team wasn’t expecting to get peak sun until noon and therefore wasn’t expecting to break the record so early in the day.