A team of UNSW Sydney students will leave Perth this Saturday with a solar electric car they will drive more than 4000km back to Sydney, for $45.
The young crew is attempting to set a new Guinness World Record for the lowest energy consumption driving trans-Australia – electric car.
“Traditional cars are highly inefficient,” explains Chelsea Liang, 18, operations lead for the Sunswift solar car team, a student-led initiative at UNSW.
“When cruising, our car Violet uses about the same amount of energy as a four-slice toaster.”
Violet is the sixth solar car to be designed and built entirely by students at UNSW. The students are between 18 and 21 years old and study a range of disciplines, mainly engineering but also commerce and science.
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To set the new world record, the team must drive the car from coast to coast, Perth to Sydney, ensuring they keep its energy consumption to under 5.5kw per hour. The cost to run the car will be about $45 for the entire journey.
“We are aiming to use about eight times less energy per kilometre than a Tesla,” Liang said.
The students hope that by taking on this challenge they will inspire all Australians to learn more about solar technology and the planet-saving benefits of renewable energy.
“I am hoping that people will come out to see us along our journey and talk to us about the benefits of reducing our impact on our planet and how we can all contribute to this cause,” Liang said.
“School kids particularly seem to get a kick out of seeing Violet and often talk to us about wanting to join Sunswift when they grow up!”
UNSW Dean of Engineering Mark Hoffman said the benefits of the Sunswift solar car program are twofold.
“It is wonderful to see public support for Violet when the car leaves the University campus on a mission – and yes, it is about spreading the message about how we combat soaring energy demands across the globe and help fight climate change,” he said.
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“Furthermore, I see immediate benefit for students who participate in student-led programs such as Sunswift while at university, that being the significant competitive advantage they have upon entering the workforce.
“These students gain real hands-on, project-based learning in engineering, in addition to other aspects of our world-class teaching, providing our students with a unique university experience and a truly well-rounded education.
“They leave university not only with a first-class engineering degree, but also practical experience, plus teamwork, project management, budgeting and communications skills, all needed to do well in a corporate environment.”