At this year's Global Green Challenge, a Japanese team from Tokai University took the crown in convincing fashion. Riding the solar-powered Tokai Challenger, the team completed the race in four days, easily clearing the victory well ahead of their nearest competitor.
The Global Green Challenge is a bi-annual race that pits different "green vehicles" against each other in a race to the finish. The last several events have been dominated by Dutch utility Nuon, who has won the competition four straight times. This year's field consisted of 32 vehicles (consisting of different alternative powertrains) from 16 countries.
According to reports, the Tokai Challenger took the lead from the onset and kept it throughout the entire 1,860 miles of the race. It is equipped with six square meters of 1.8 kW compound solar cells, which was originally developed by Sharp for use in outer space. The team's run was nearly flawless, averaging a speed of 50.87 mph and encountering problems only once during the entire course (a flat tire).
Held since 1987, it's quite disappointing that solar power still isn't a viable commercial option for regular cars. In fact, the winning endurance racer still looks like one of those ultra-thin, ultra-long single seaters that we've seen in earlier sun-powered rides.
The Tokai Challenger is the first Japanese car to win the race since the Honda Dream II took the crown back in 1993.