The University Record, March 29, 1993

New solar car, Maize & Blue, will debut at Power Center tomorrow

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

The University of Michigan Maize & Blue, a new solar-powered car designed and built by U-M students, will be unveiled during a 1:30 p.m. ceremony tomorrow (March 30 )in the Power Center for the Performing Arts. The event is open to the public.

Maize & Blue will be one of 36 student-designed, solar-powered cars competing in Sunrayce 93—a 1,000-mile intercollegiate race from Dallas to Minneapolis, June 20–26.

U-M students also plan to enter Maize & Blue in the 1993 World Solar Challenge—a 1,900-mile race across the center of Australia that begins Nov. 7.

“Our goal is to win a national championship for the University in June and a world championship in November,” says Furqan Nazeeri, team project manager.

In 1990, the U-M’s first solar car, Sunrunner, won GM Sunrayce USA and placed third in the World Solar Challenge. Sunrunner is now part of the Henry Ford Museum’s permanent collection.

“The U-M Solar Car Team exemplifies the Michigan spirit—the willingness to go all out to be the very best,” says President James J. Duderstadt. “All of us at the University are proud of this team and we’re hoping for another Maize & Blue victory in June.”

About 100 students on the U-M Solar Car Team have been preparing to compete in Sunrayce 93 since the summer of 1991. More than 75,000 hours of work have been devoted to the solar car project so far by students in LS&A, the College of Engineering and the School of Business Administration.

With an average speed of 45 miles per hour, Maize & Blue is powered by 7,700 solar cells, each the size of a razor blade, that cover the top and sides of the car. The solar cells can produce 1,000 watts of power in full sunlight—the equivalent of a portable hair dryer. Maize & Blue is propelled by a two-horsepower electric motor that draws power from the car’s solar cells or from its batteries. The car itself, without a driver or battery, weighs 400 pounds.

To date, the Solar Car Team has received cash and materials for Maize & Blue worth more than $750,000. “Support from our corporate sponsors and private donors has been outstanding,” Nazeeri says. “With the exception of the solar cells, nearly all major components for Maize & Blue have been donated.” The team hopes to raise additional funds by November to cover additional expenses for travel and vehicle modifications needed for the World Solar Challenge in Australia.

Maize & Blue and the Solar Car Team will travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to participate in the April 8–10 eastern regional time trials for Sunrayce 93. Qualifying heat race times will determine starting positions in Sunrayce with the fastest car starting first.

Major corporate sponsors of the Solar Car Team include Ford Motor Co., Christy Industries Inc. of Frazier and Briggs Industries Inc. of Chesterfield.

Sunrayce 93 is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors Corp., General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), Westinghouse, Eagle Picher, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Society of Automotive Engineers and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The race is organized by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.