The vehicle, currently codenamed ‘Bethany‘, will compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October 2009. This vehicle is capable of cruising at 60mph using the same power as a hairdryer. The car will weigh just 160kg and sports 6m2 of the world’s highest efficiency silicon solar cells.
In order to achieve the car’s extraordinary performance, CUER’s engineering team has systematically reduced energy usage for each part of the car. Aerodynamics, rolling resistance, weight and electrical efficiency have all been optimised to create a vehicle that uses up to 50 times less power than a normal petrol car and has potentially infinite range.
Extensive computer modelling and simulation have been necessary to achieve this, using Dassault Systèmes’ SolidWorks and Simulia packages for mechanical design, ANSYS’s Fluent for aerodynamic simulation, as well as National Instrument’s LabVIEW and The MathWorks’ MatLab and Simulink for systems modelling. Under its solar skin, the racing car is simply an ultra-efficient electric vehicle.
The technologies used are therefore applicable to the commercial electric cars that are beginning to appear on our roads. Technologies used include a 98% efficient electric hub motor, control systems providing battery management (supplied by REAPsystems) and regenerative braking, lightweight mechanical design, and carbon fibre composite bodywork.