The University Record, June 19, 1995

Solar car team will try for third national championship

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

Determined to continue the University's winning tradition in solar racing, 15 U-M students and their solar-powered car, Solar Vision, head for Indianapolis this week to prepare for the start of Sunrayce 95.

Solar Vision will be one of 40 student-designed solar cars competing in Sunrayce 95--a 1,200-mile intercollegiate race from Indianapolis to Golden, Colo., June 20-29.

"Since U-M teams won both the 1990 and 1993 Sunrayce competitions, expectations are high and we expect the pressure on us during the race to be intense," says Betsy White, a junior in mechanical engineering and 1995 Solar Car Team manager. "We know it won't be easy, but we are determined to bring back a third national championship for the U-M."

"The U-M Solar Car Team exemplifies the Michigan spirit--the willingness to go all out to be the very best," said President James J. Duderstadt. "All of us in Ann Arbor are proud of this team, and we're hoping for another U-M victory."

Solar Vision, the U-M's third-generation solar car, features all-new technology and is very different in design, construction and appearance from its 1990 and 1993 predecessors, Sunrunner and Maize & Blue.

"Because Sunrayce 95's race route runs from east to west instead of south to north as in previous races, our solar array is flat, instead of curved, to capture the maximum amount of solar energy as we race with the sun directly overhead," said Richard Holt, engineering team leader and a senior in aerospace and mechanical engineering.

Solar Vision features all-in-one monocoque carbon fiber body construction that is lighter, stronger and more aerodynamically efficient than the aluminum frame chassis used by the 1990 and 1993 teams. Problems in previous races with blown tires prompted this year's team to switch to custom-designed magnesium wheels and steel-belted radials.

Solar Vision is powered by 3,204 monocrystalline silicon solar cells, each about the size of a pocket calculator. The 19.5-foot-long car is propelled by an electric motor, which draws power from the solar cells or five 12-volt, lead-acid batteries. Without a driver, Solar Vision weighs just 695 pounds.

Grace Chan, a junior in electrical engineering, and Jason Harper, a senior in electrical engineering, will take turns driving during the 1,200-mile, 10-day race.

More than 100 students from the College of Engineering, School of Business Administration, School of Art, and College of Literature, Science and the Arts have been part of the Solar Vision team. In addition to working on design and construction, students solicited donations of cash, materials and technical support worth more than $1.2 million from corporate and individual sponsors.

Major corporate sponsors for the 1995 Solar Car Team include Christy Industries Inc. of Fraser, Mich., Ford Motor Co. and IBM.

Sunrayce 95 is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors, Electronic Data Systems, Delphi, Chevrolet, Delco Electronics, GMC, Hughes Network Systems, Midwest Research Institute and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.