Australian students break 26-year-old electric vehicle speed record


July 28, 2014

A group of Australian students has set a new world speed record for an electric vehicle (Photo: Sunswift / Daniel Chen)

A group of Australian students has set a new world speed record for an electric vehicle (Photo: Sunswift / Daniel Chen)

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A group of students from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia has set a new world speed record for an electric vehicle. The Sunswift team's eVe car averaged over 100 km/h (62 mph) over a distance of 500 km (311 mi). The previous record for an electric car over the same distance was 73 km/h (45 mph).

The record attempt was held on a 4.2 km (2.6 mi) circular track at the Australian Automotive Research Centre in Victoria. According to UNSW, the existing record has stood for 26 years, although Gizmag was unable to verify that against Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) documentation. The attempt is pending FIA confirmation, but assuming all goes well, UNSW says it will be the first time that an FIA world record has been set in Australia since 1984.

The Sunswift eVe used for the record attempt is the fifth car built by the Sunswift team. In 2011, the Sunswift IVy was used to set the Guinness World Record for the fastest solar-powered car. The Jaycar Sunswift III, meanwhile, was used to set a world record for the fastest solar-powered road trip from Perth to Sydney in 2007.

According to the Sunswift team, the eVe has a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph) and a maximum range of 800 km (497 mi). It features 800 W solar panels on its roof and hood that charge a 60 kg (132 lb) battery. The panels were not used for the record attempt, for which the vehicle must travel the distance on one full battery charge. However, UNSW says the team hopes that it has shown that the car is ready for practical use. Work is continuing towards meeting Australian road registration requirements, which the team believes it could reach within a year.

"This record was about establishing a whole new level of single-charge travel for high-speed electric vehicles, which we hope will revolutionize the electric car industry," says project director and engineering student Hayden Smith in a press release. "Five hundred kilometers is pretty much as far as a normal person would want to drive in a single day. It's another demonstration that one day you could be driving our car."

The video below provides an introduction to the world record attempt.

Source: University of New South Wales

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

This would be impressive if done on solar power. On battery, it's underwhelming and more than anything else a reflection of the fact that no one else bothered to try for a record under the artificial conditions imposed by the FIA.


That's not far off from what a stock Tesla Model S can do, so it begs the question... How would a modified Model S (stripped, lightened, regeared) do in a similar test?

Jeff King

How would it have done if you added a bag of groceries?


How long does it take to charge the battery? A quick charge will greatly shorten the life of the battery pack. I would guess a normal charge might be over night or 9 to 13 hours. I can drive my race car at speeds mich greater, refill the tank, get 4 tires and get back on the track in about 12 seconds.


Um... Can't the Tesla model S do this? Heck, its regular rated distance is 300 with the bigger battery.

Dave Andrews

did i walk into the wrong dimension the record for an electric vehicle if this is correct is 3 miles slower than the one Nicola Tesla modified to electric the pierce arrow a cast aluminum body frame vehicle

Tommy Hickok

Stu...would that be the under 500kg, 500km record set by the GM Sunraycer in 1988 in the solar & electric catergories, according to the FIA website? Ed...yes a world record is underwhelming... many batteries will you take out to get a Tesla S under 500kg? long is a piece of string? has solar panels to charge the 60kg battery - you wouldn't have to stop for even 12 seconds for expensive fuel & expensive tyres! it can't - 283 miles @ 60 mph with 1323lb battery pack, (ten times the size of the record car - 132.3lbs), you are from another dimension where that car might actually have existed!


Again, this bloody obsession with speed!


Yep. 100km/hr (60 mph) faster than any mgb.

Tony Morris

What's the matter with speed? This is the 21st century I want to get to my destination with all do haste I don't understand this obsession with speed hating, stay off the roads if you don't want people going fast around you?


@ nazza

What will adding 20 pounds to the car do to the range at speed?

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