500 km on single battery charge: Students successful in electric car world record attempt

August 6, 2014 by Steve Offner
Credit: Sunswift

(Phys.org) —A team of UNSW students has broken a 26-year-old world speed record*, potentially establishing their Sunswift car as the fastest electric vehicle over a distance of 500 kilometers, on a single battery charge.

The was broken this afternoon by the team at a racetrack in Geelong, Victoria.

The car achieved an average speed of more than 100 km/h during the attempt, bettering the previous world record of 73km/h.

However, no definitive numbers can be issued until the record is officially approved by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), world motorsport's governing body.

The last time an FIA world record was set in Australia was in April 1984 in a production based petrol engine sedan. Further to this the most recent Australian record was set in March 1994 by Rosco McGlashan in a jet powered vehicle, according to the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, who supervised the attempt.

One of the professional drivers involved in the world record attempt, Garth Walden, said: "As a racing driver you always want to be on the podium and it's not everyday you get to break a world record. I really enjoyed hanging out with the team and being part of history." "This record was about establishing a whole new level of single-charge travel for high-speed electric vehicles, which we hope will revolutionize the electric car industry," said jubilant project director and third-year engineering student Hayden Smith.

The students are from UNSW's Sunswift, Australia's top solar car racing team. Their vehicle eVe is the fifth to be built and raced since the team was founded in 1996.

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Sunswift Land Speed Record 2014

Earlier versions of the Sunswift car have 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.

The team hopes the car's performance today proves it is ready for day-to-day practical use.

"Five hundred kilometers is pretty much as far as a normal person would want to drive in a single day," Smith said. "It's another demonstration that one day you could be driving our car."

No secret has been made of Sunswift's long-term goals for the car. They expect it to meet Australian road registration requirements within as little as one year, and have previously said its zero-emission solar and battery storage systems make it "a symbol for a new era of sustainable driving".

The current car uses solar panels on the roof and hood to charge a 60kg battery. However, the panels were switched off during today's world-record attempt, leaving the to run solely on the battery charge.

The vehicle was put to the test on a 4.2 kilometer circular track at the Australian Automotive Research Centre, located about 50 kilometres outside Geelong, Victoria.

Almost a quarter of the Sunswift team – which comprises 60 undergraduate students – made the trip to Victoria to support the world-record attempt.

Explore further: Electric vehicle travels record-breaking 623 miles on a single charge

More information: Note: * Subject to FIA homologation (approval).

FB project page: www.facebook.com/UNSWSunswift

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7 comments

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TopCat22
2.5 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2014
Great news! This means that if the solar panel was turned on the car would exceed the 500 km distance significantly increasing its range above that of some production gas powered cars out there today.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2014
Nice. And with rechargeable batteries to boot.

The car achieved an average speed of more than 100 km/h during the attempt

Still needs a bit of work not to be a slow hazard on the Autobahn, then. But this certainly looks much more promising than the EV crap the dinosaurs of the old auto companies are producing .
Scottingham
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2014
Wellll, this car has the equivalent of bicycle tires and has likely 0 safety features.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 06, 2014
Wellll, this car has the equivalent of bicycle tires and has likely 0 safety features.


Since they say that
They expect it to meet Australian road registration requirements within as little as one year

I guess they have all the safety features required by law pretty much in place.

And who cares how thin the tyres are? This isn't a sports vehicle. Light cars do not need fat tyres to be able to brake efficiently.
EWH
1 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2014
Really underwhelming. Not fast, not far. I suspect this is only a record because no one else bothered to do a trial under the artificial and irrelevant FIA rules. The big-battery Tesla could go just about as far under the same test conditions, and it's road-legal and mass produced.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2014
I guess they have all the safety features required by law pretty much in place.


There are many vehicle classes, not all of which require the same features.

For example, this may qualify as a motorcycle of some sort, in which case the driver and passengers would need to wear helmets and possibly padded clothes, and speed limits may apply.

And who cares how thin the tyres are? This isn't a sports vehicle.


Safety concerns. The smaller the contact patch, the larger the difference in grip between rolling and slip. In other words, if you lose traction or lock up in braking on thin wheels, you're going to lose all control very easily.

Throw a bit of water on the road and try to brake through a tight spiraling highway ramp, and watch people spin into the bushes.
Skepticus_Rex
not rated yet Sep 19, 2014
Really underwhelming. Not fast, not far. I suspect this is only a record because no one else bothered to do a trial under the artificial and irrelevant FIA rules. The big-battery Tesla could go just about as far under the same test conditions, and it's road-legal and mass produced.


Best not hit a rock or any other kind of road hazard in a Tesla, though, or your whole car could light up the road in a bonfire. :-)

None of these cars have been able to beat my gasoline-powered Cadillac in either range or overall speed. When they do, I'll go electric.

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