Skip Navigation
crimson and green website wordmarkOU homepageSustainability homepage
Solar Car

Racing Toward a Brighter Future with OU's Solar Car Racing Team

The University of Oklahoma Solar Car Racing Team brings together 18 engineering majors and graduate students--electrical, mechanical, industrical, and civil engineers-- to design, build, and race a car powered by sunlight. The team competes in the World Solar Challenge and American Solar Challenge with their custom-made solar cell vehicle, which can reach over 70 miles per hour in full sunlight. With planned improvements to the car's efficiency, the team hopes to reach speeds of 100 miles per hour or more.

The World Solar Challenge, held every odd year, is a race through the Australian outback against many major universities across the world as well as major car companies such as Honda. The race covers 3,000 km from Darwin to Adelaide, creating a true challenge of reliability in an extremely harsh environment against many well-funded groups. The OU team is determined to carry the Sooner tradition of excellence to that race.

The American Solar Challenge (occurring every even year) is a race through the United States, hitting multiple cities on an approximately 1500 mile route. It is primarily a national competition, but some international teams do attend. Although the OU team intends to participate in the 2013 competition, they are currently planning, building, and strategizing for the Australian race.

The estimated cost of the car in total is around $150,000 for the entirety of the vehicle including solar cells; however, since the team is building off the previous car's chassis and body, the cost of revitalization will run roughly $75,000 (a large portion of which is for new solar cells).

"The really exciting part about this team," writes team captain Christian Bayless, "is that we have been working on the car for less than a month as a team, and as a team, we have diagnosed problems, devised solutions, and have made some of those solutions a reality with what little time and money we've had. We are revitalizing a vehicle that hasn't been used in almost 6 years and are doing so extremely quickly with what resources and knowledge we had. The vehicle attracts brilliant minds because mobile solar is a tantalizing challenge for engineers and presents a tremendous opportunity to achieve greatness and recognition on an international level, a level not normally open to undergraduate students. It also serves to promote the Green Movement by getting us involved on a personal level with a project that is part of a global flagship project to transfer our vehicle sector from petroleum to alternative energies. By joining this team, people have the opportunities to solve problems that are being solved right now and to which there are no definitively or predefined correct answers. That's the beauty of this team and of this project--it is a cutting edge of technology, and we are making a difference on a front that is all too important for the future."

For more information about the solar car or to join the team, please contact team captain Christian Bayless, Christian.A.Bayless-1@ou.edu.