Electric motors turn the cogs of industry – but these days they’re turning other wheels as well.
Global issues with fossil fuel effect-and-supply are finally beginning to power up a serious electric car movement.
SEW-Eurodrive NZ is assisting with the German Bochum University Team’s attempt to make the first ever circumnavigation of the globe in an autonomously solar-powered car dubbed Solar World GT.
Bochum University’s latest two door, two seater, public-friendly and solar-powered vehicle will soon be seen in New Zealand.
Its journey around the globe started from Darwin with the 2011 World Solar Challenge fleet in the middle of October.
The SolarWorld Gran Turismo is facing a road journey of some 34,000 km and two equatorial-crossings to fulfil the official circumnavigation requirements for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records and a significant place in transport history.
The Bochum team hope that its example will transform the prevailing public perception of solar/electric cars from a motorsport-oddity into a vision of achievable, potentially affordable and environmentally preferable personal transport.
The New Zealand section of this global journey begins on November 24 from Auckland.
Solar World GT will be accompanied by electric car expert Mike Duke and a small team of students from Waikato University with their own experimental electric car. They hope to arrive in Bluff around December 9.
On reaching Christchurch the ensemble will be joined by the made-in-Christchurch Team SolarFern vehicle.
At Bluff the Bochum car will be packed up for shipment to the USA and the next part of its year-long adventure while Team SolarFern will be north-bound for Cape Reinga – an estimated journey of six days.
They’ll attempt the Wellington to Auckland section in a single day – theoretically possible given good weather.
This unprecedented flurry of solar/electric activity on SH1 should provide the New Zealand motoring public some food for thought.
Germany’s Bochum University of Applied Sciences has a history of building and racing solar cars dating back to 1999 – beginning with a combined student project undertaken with Southbank University in London.
At this point a future connection to New Zealand was formed as Mike Duke, then working on the project for Southbank, later moved to Waikato University in Hamilton.
In 2001 the first German solar car Mad Dog III was solely constructed by German students in London and participated in the epic World Solar Challenge event run across the Australian continent from Darwin to Adelaide.
Between 2001 and 2003 Bochum developed a new car called Hans Go!. It placed fifth in the 2003 World Solar Challenge, and won the Technical Innovation Award presented by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for its implemented Telemetry-System.
Next came "the most beautiful solar car in the world", Solarworld-1, which was planned and built from 2005 to 2007.
It placed fourth in the 2007 World Solar Challenge and was awarded Best Design. In 2008 the team came third in the North American Solar Challenge and received an award for innovation and excellence in the fields of mechanics and electrical engineering.
In 2009 a new vehicle, the BOcruiser was made for the World Solar Challenge. Built with typical street-car dimensions and not designed as a race car, though still employing fibre-reinforced composites, high-strength aluminium with newly developed wheel-hub motors, this ‘sun chariot’ brought practical solar transport a step closer to every-day life.
Essential factors of success in the Bochum project are the integrated interdisciplinary team-work approach within the University, and a great passion for the project on which they are working.
SEW-Eurodrive New Zealand is a company that takes electric motors very seriously, providing New Zealand customers with a comprehensive range of modular electric motor and controller, power, size and drive configurations backed by around-the-clock technical support.
When not on the road in Australia or America, the most beautiful solar car in the world – Solarworld 1 – resides at the University of Applied Sciences Bochum, on display as a proud inspiration to others.
The SolarWorld GT brings practical solar transport a step closer to every-day life.
The proposed New Zealand schedule
Solar GT’s companion on the Christchurch-Bluff leg is SolarFern (above). It was created by a small group of private enthusiasts and raced in the 2007 World Solar challenge with the distinction of sporting the oldest solar array in the event, having borrowed solar panels from the Hamilton-built 1993 Solar Kiwi car. This was their "plan B" solution, activated when anticipated sponsorship funding for a state-of-the-art commercial silicon array being built for them was withdrawn at the last minute.
In true Kiwi fashion, even with this handicap, they out-performed many well-financed teams who were using much more powerful new solar arrays.
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