Cambridge in solar car crisis

The Cambridge team in a race for solar cars across Australia have failed in their quest for glory.


Cambridge’s entry into a race for solar cars across Australia has ended in disappointment.

The race is supposed to highlight the viability of solar technology, but the University’s car finds itself at the back of the field after BATTERY FAILURE, having traveled hundreds of kilometers ON A TRAILER.

The Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) team, consisting of 17 students, began building its Endeavour car two years ago in preparation for the annual World Solar Challenge.

The car weighs only 160 kilograms and reached a high-speed of over 100 km/h during the race using less power than a hairdryer.

The week began hopefully with the team’s blog predicting ‘great things’. The Sydney Morning Herald described Cambridge’s Endeavour as “among the favorites for the 3000 kilometer race despite spending less than many of their competitors and The Cambridge Student claimed CUER were ‘Gunning for glory’.”

The optimism seemed justified as the Endeavour’s competitors experienced difficulties. The car representing the University of Michigan lost four tires and the Unicore team from Belgium saw their vehicle destroyed as a gust of wind blew them into a tree.

But by the third day of the race problems with the car’s battery pack had set it. The team’s pre-race aim of a top 10 finish in the 35 strong race was lowered, as their Twitter feed informed its followers: ‘It looks like our hopes of completing the race are slipping away’

The news on day four was no better: “the battery cells are DYING OFF one by one, time is running thin, almost 1500km stretch out ahead of us.”

As the race winners from Tokai University in Japan crossed the finishing line in Adelaide last Thursday lunchtime, Cambridge’s team were hundreds of miles behind, the Endeavour being ferried through the outback on a trailer.

Also at the back of the pack were the Canadian McMaster team who were forced to trailer their car after it CAUGHT FIRE, burnt out its motor and had one of its wheels collapse.

The CUER blog defended their car’s performance: “We may not be in the position that we wanted to be and that we are capable of being in, but we have covered almost 1000 kilometers under solar power alone and this is a huge achievement.

“All members of the team have worked tirelessly to produce a car that runs as it was designed to do and this is exactly what it does, it is parts that are letting us down and not people,” it continued.

Huw Roberts, a 2nd year Nat-Sci who rows for GB World Class Start program and founded the Jesus College ‘Renewable Energy Discussion Group’ said he was disappointed: ‘”I haven’t done the maths but I reckon I could row AROUND Australia faster than that!”

He added: “The fact that it requires a polluting petrol-fuelled trailer to follow it and can obviously only work in a hot country makes the whole thing ridiculous. They reckon we’ll all be driving these things in a few years. Jog on!”