If Tesla was told it had a new rival, it would expect you to talk about General Motors or BMW and would certainly not believe that a group of Australian students were capable of bettering their market model. However, this is precisely what has happened as the intrepid students developed an electric car called the Sunswift eVe which has just set a world record for the fastest average speed of over 60 miles an hour on a single battery charge on a 310 mile journey.
This is a major development because one of the biggest problems people have with electric cars is their complete lack of range. An electric car travelling so far at a reasonable speed on a single charge is a significant achievement to say the least. The Sunswift eVe easily outperformed the Tesla Model S which is considered to be the best electric car and its record speed was a full 15 miles an hour better than the old mark.
A Look At The Future
The eVe is an attractive looking vehicle and its battery pack can be charged from a normal wall outlet or else it can be charged using the solar panels on the roof and hood. The students go to the University of New South Wales and the eVe is the fifth electric car they have made. Its predecessors date back almost 20 years and include the IVy which has the world record for the fastest travelling solar powered car when it drove at 55 miles an hour in 2011.
The eVe is certainly the most practical car to be created by the team and is a major improvement on previous versions which consisted of nothing more than a bunch of solar panels, three wheels and a driver’s seat. The eVe seats two people and looks like an actual car instead of a prototype. Of course you don’t get the same level of luxury as a normal vehicle since it weighs only 700 pounds which is actually less than what the Tesla Model S’ battery weighs! The Tesla can also seat seven and has seat belts and air conditioning!
eVe electric car. Image: Google UK
Using a typical household outlet, you can fully charge the eVe in eight hours and the car uses a 130 pound Panasonic battery. You can charge it fully in five hours if you use an industrial port. Apparently, you will get enough charge to drive for two hours if you leave the car in the sun for eight hours and allow the 800 watt solar array to get charged. The panels even collect a certain amount of energy as you drive though this is nowhere near enough to allow you to drive.
The successful record drive took place in Victoria on a 2.6 mile circuit where the car covered 120 laps. Two drivers drove in three separate stints and swapped when tires were changed to avoid fatigue. The panels were not switched on because the goal was to set a record for the quickest electric car and solar powered cars belong in another category.
The purpose of the test was to show that the eVe was ready for practical use and was capable of travelling for hundreds of miles on highways without the need to stop and charge. The project director for Sunswift, Hayden Smith, said that it was a way to demonstrate feasibility and the test was done to show that solar-electric cars could be a real alternative to conventional fossil fuel vehicles.
The team is looking to inspire commercial research into the technology but it also wants the eVe to become the first road legal solar powered vehicle in Australia. This will be a tough task as many aspects of the car need to be changed to bring it up to code. The record must be approved by the FIA, the world governing body in motorsport, before it is recognised as an official world record.