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Worlds Top Solar Car Technology

Solar-powered cars use sunlight as fuel. In Japan, hybrid cars combining a gasoline engine and an electric motor have become very popular. Japan has also been studying very hard about solar vehicles and now has one of the most advanced technologies in the world. Solar cars using sunlight are very friendly to the earth, while people say gasoline-fueled cars discharge CO2 and make the earth's air warmer than it should. Solar models are still at the experimental stage but before long Japan's high technology may be able to produce commercially viable solar vehicles.

Solar cars have solar panels on the roof, which change sunlight into electricity to power the vehicle's motor. So, there will be no engine noise or exhaust gas.

Tokai Challenger heading for Cape Town in the South African race. (Photo courtesy of Tokai University)

 "Tokai Challenger," the most advanced solar vehicle in Japan, was put together by students of the Light Power Project, undertaken by the Tokai University Challenge Center. The Tokai solar model has won the world's top solar car driving contest, held once a year alternately in South Africa and Australia, for five years in a row from 2008 to 2012.

The body was designed to minimize air resistance. (Photo courtesy of Tokai University)

A frontal view of the solar vehicle looks like a simple board.

 The 2012 race in South Africa was held as the FIA Alternative Energies Cup (FIA is the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile). Fourteen teams from three countries competed in the longest solar car race in the world, from Pretoria to Cape Town and back to Pretoria. Tokai Challenger ran the 4,631-km course in 11 days, beating the second-placed vehicle by a margin of 18 hours 42 minutes.

 In the 2011 race in Australia, 37 teams from 20 countries participated in the hotly contested transcontinental competition over a course of around 3,000 km from Darwin to Adelaide. Tokai Challenger ran at an average speed of over 90 kph. A maximum speed of 160 kph is possible, just as fast as a sports car. You will have to have a really high level of technology to change sunlight into energy as powerful as that.

Tokai Challenger is about 5 meters long, 1.6 meters wide and 1 meter high, and weighs 134 kg or a 10th that of an ordinary compact car. The vehicle is a single-seat tricycle, powered by a rear–wheel drive system. The vehicle does not really look like any of the cars you know; it looks more like a huge board because it has a large solar panel set on the roof to receive as much sunlight as possible.

A view of the vehicle's cockpit. The narrow cockpit can barely seats a drive
 the solar model “is the essence of Japanese technology." Japan is known for its great manufacturing technologies, all of which are put together to produce the solar vehicle.


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