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Solar Challenge car to form basis of Ultra-commuter


June 4, 2004

Offering a green, efficient alternative to the typically over-engineered, fossil-fuel burning cars found on Australian roads, the UltraCommuter concept is an ultra-light weight, solar powered commuter vehicle specifically designed to meet Australian urban transport requirements.

The compact, aerodynamic 2-seater uses electric direct-drive wheel motors in the rear wheels that eliminate the gearbox, drive shafts and differentials. The wheel motors provide enough punch to accelerate the vehicle from 0-100kmh in under 8 seconds and also provide 100% regenerative braking under normal driving conditions.

A 2.5m2 on-board solar array means that stopping at the petrol station or even recharging via mains power is a thing of the past, and for long trips of up to 500km, the UltraCommuter will be equipped with a natural gas-fuelled range extender.

The system provides a 97% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the average passenger vehicle according to designers from the University of Queensland's Sustainable Energy Research Group. Following the success of the SunShark solar car, the group sees a future for the UltraCommuter as a sustainable fleet vehicle or as the second car in Australian households.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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