Solar challenge tilt at hopeful Dutch

Solar challenge tilt at hopeful Dutch, by Cameron McGavin - 28th September 2005
(Credit: The Age)

Mediaman pitched Fairfax - Drive

The eighth World Solar Challenge started in Darwin last weekend with 23 teams from 10 countries contesting the 3000 km-plus efficiency run that ends this week in Adelaide.

The hot favourite in the leading solar class - demonstrating some of the fundamental technical innovations driving us towards a hydrogen-based economy - is the multimillion-dollar Dutch entry Nuna 3, which is on a hat-trick after taking out the technology-based event in 2001 and 2003.

Nuna 3 has been leading Australia's team, Aurora 101, which was hoping to reverse the form that saw it finish second in the past two events.

With speeds in the solar category more than doubling in the past 10 years, now reaching 100 km/h, leading competitors are likely to reach the finish in Adelaide in record time.

Potentially more interesting for motorists, however, is the Greenfleet category of the event, which offers manufacturers an opportunity to demonstrate their technologies.

Entrants include Daimler- Chrysler brand Smart, which has fielded a Smart ForTwo CDi, piloted by Australian model and actress Annalise Braakensiek. Powered by the world's smallest diesel engine featuring direct injection and a common-rail system, the tiny European-market city car uses just 3.1 litres/100 km of fuel on the open road, emits just 90 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (less than Toyota's hybrid-powered Prius and about a third that of an average Australian family car) and is expected to complete the transcontinental journey on four tanks of fuel.

Holden's Greenfleet entrant is an Astra powered by a diesel engine from GM Europe to demonstrate its performance and economy.


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