Solar car hits U.S. in round-the-world jaunt


January 31, 2012

The SolarWorld GT solar-powered car is currently on a drive around the world, and embarks on the U.S. leg of its trip later this week

The SolarWorld GT solar-powered car is currently on a drive around the world, and embarks on the U.S. leg of its trip later this week

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Last October, the SolarWorld GT solar-powered car set out from Darwin, Australia on a drive around the world. It has since driven 3,001 kilometers (1,865 miles) across Australia, logged 1,947 km (1,210 miles) crossing New Zealand and been shipped across the Pacific Ocean. This Friday, it will embark on the U.S. leg of its journey, as it sets out across America from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The SolarWorld GT is the result of a collaboration between solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld, and Bochum University of Applied Sciences in Germany. The four-wheeled, two-door, two-seat car gathers solar energy through photovoltaic panels built into its roof, with its solar generator offering a peak performance of 823 watts. Custom hub motors are located in both of the front wheels.

The vehicle manages an average speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), with a claimed top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

In order to demonstrate that solar powered cars needn't be a radical departure from what consumers are used to, the street-legal GT's dimensions are similar to those of a conventional automobile. Unlike a regular car, however, it weighs in at just 260 kilograms (573 lbs) and has a low drag coefficient of 0.14. The vehicle was designed and built by a team of 30 Bochum students from the fields of mechatronics, computer science, and mechanical and electrical engineering.

The SolarWorld GT will be making various stops throughout the southern U.S. between now and March 9, when it is scheduled to arrive in Florida. It will then be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, to continue driving across Europe, Asia and Africa. It should hopefully arrive back at Darwin late this year. Assuming it does, it will set the Guinness Record for the longest distance covered by a solar car - approximately 34,000 kilometers, or 21,080 miles.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Tell me when they have something remotely practical.


Slowburn - despite the fact that YOU clicked the link, how shockingly irresponsible it was of gizmag to trouble you with this article that apparently FAILED so utterly to live up to the high level that you consider worthy of your time.


Who CARES if it\'s practical right now- I would love to be behind the wheel of that thing for at least part of its trip. I can see this vehicle presaging a whole new class of cars for people who appreciate a high level of efficiency, as well as hobbyists and enthusiasts who would buy kit versions. I don\'t think people will be trading in their Beemers or Chevies for this, but technologies pioneered now will make their way into future generations of everyday cars.

Duane Phillips

I guess I\'m just hopelessly optimistic.


So it can only be driven 270 days a year ... freeeeee ... take a bus the cloudy days ... sounds practical to me ...

Jansen Estrup

It would be quite \'practical\' if gasoline was $20/gallon. So I wouldn\'t diss it yet.

William Volk

Now stick a 600cc motorcycle engine into the machine, get rid of the expensive solar panels and batteries and sell the car for under $10k. I\'d be first in line to buy it!


\"1,947 km crossing New Zealand\" should be \"1,947 km travelling the length of New Zealand\". They would have fallen off the edge if they had tried driving that far east/west.

Lindsey Roke
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