Competitors in this year's Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (WSC) are gearing up for the start of the race early next month, as Jim Drury reports.
Sunswift Violet on the move. The solar-powered car was built by students at the University of New South Wales. Their team is taking part in this year's World Solar Challenge in the Australian outback. The Sunswift team has good pedigree. Three years ago previous model Sunswift eVe broke the world land-speed record for an electric vehicle. SOUNDBITE (English) SUNSWIFT VIOLET DRIVER, SIMBA KUESTLER, SAYING: "It's a four-seater car that we've built for the first time ever that has four doors, adjustable seats and a lot of other practical features such as tablets and with live telemetry feeds, Bluetooth, again a sound system, air conditioning and everything else you'd except in a normal conventional car." Competition will be fierce. The Eindhoven University of Technology team hopes to win its third successive title. Its new model Stella Vie weighs just 375 kilograms and can travel for 1,000 kilometres on a single charge. SOUNDBITE (English) BEATRIX BOS, PUBLIC RELATIONS AND FINANCE MANAGER, SOLAR TEAM EINDHOVEN, SAYING: "This is Stella Vie, and this is our third solar-powered family car. Stella and Stella Lux were four-seater cars, but now we've built for the first time a car that suits five persons, so a whole family. That's actually quite new in a car. Besides that we have one square metre less solar cells. So even though we have one square metre and we can't produce as much energy, we still are more efficient, so we still can drive the same range." The 8-day race starts on October 8, running from Darwin to Adelaide, more than 3,000 kilometres. 47 teams from 21 countries are taking part. This year's race marks the original event's 30th anniversary.