New Zealand's Solar Car in the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Challenge

Driving Solar Powered from Bluff to Cape Reinga - December 2011


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would like to thank
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News: Our NZ tour is ON!
News: Solar Fern WSC 07 Race highlights!

The Solar Fern

The Solar Fern during qualifying in Darwin


  • Wind tunnel tested aerodynamics
  • Light weight composite body
  • Light weight Lithium batteries
  • Powerful brushless DC permanent magnet motor
  • High performance solar racing tyres
  • Weight: 209kg
  • Dimensions: 1.8m wide x 5m long x 850mm high
  • Top Speed: Over 120 KPH

Cape Reinga to Bluff

Solar Fern will be driving the length of New Zealand, from Bluff to Cape Reinga in December 2011, and we're out to set a few NZ records to boot! Driving a solar car in New Zealand is another step up from the near ideal conditions of central Australia. We will face cloud, rain, major hills, mountain passes, traffic, and many more towns and cities along the way. 

Our tour takes us through the stunning mountains and lakes of Central Otago and Tekapo, and across the volcanic central Plateo on our way up to the very tip of the winterless north.

We aim to set records:

  • The longest distance ever covered by a solar powered vehicle in NZ.
  • The fastest time to drive the length of NZ (and any significant part of it covered by other cars!)
  • The most distance ever covered by a solar car in NZ in a single day.
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The Challenge!

The Panasonic World Solar Challenge is the world's most prestigious solar racing event. Teams compete over 3000km of highway, through the Australian outback from Darwin to Adelaide, in vehicles powered only by the sun.

Teams have 8 days to complete the course, driving from 8am to 5pm each day, with check points every 500km or so. Each solar car travels with at least two support vehicles, one in front and another behind, and at 5pm each night teams camp on the side of the road under the stars of the Australian outback, wherever their car happens to stop!

Conditions are harsh, maximum temperatures range from 35C to 50C, winds can be strong, and the sun is relentless, yet as teams approach Adelaide the weather can sometimes change dramatically, with rain and even hail pouring from the sky!

The cars are low and cramped, and even with good ventilation, they are hot! Drivers can be on the road  for up to 6 hours non-stop! Anything can go wrong, and something usually does. Being 1000km from civilisation means teams must carry everything, from coffee to welding plants, power tools and generators. It's a long way to go if you don't have the right size bolt!

The World Solar Challenge is much more than just a flat out race. Over 3000km, reliability and organisation can become the biggest factors. And, much like yachting, teams must read the weather, know their car, and know the terrain. Good strategy is essential to getting the most from the changing winds and clouds. Battery charge needs be managed carefully by keeping a close eye on speed, so that the car can get through the cloudy spots and up the hills, without having to stop!

Rob Glassey
Project Director
Phone:   021 122 9483
Solar Fern Racing
PO Box 21-363
New Zealand

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