The 2010 American Solar Challenge isn't until next week, but records may have already been broken. In testing, the University of Michigan Solar Car Team's Infinium clocked speeds of more than 100 mph for 30 seconds at Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Proving Ground, achieving a top speed of 105 mph.
"No one we have spoken to has ever heard of a solar car reaching 100 mph, and a U-M car has never reached it," said Rachel Kramer, the team's project manager. "Our goal for the 2010 American Solar Challenge is to win Michigan's sixth North American championship. We hope to win an unprecedented third consecutive title."
While the high speed should theoretically help the team reach the finish line first, all drivers must obey all posted speed limits in the 1,100-mile competition, which begins in Tulsa, Okla., to near Chicago. This week the solar-car team is competing in the Formula Sun Grand Prix, the qualifying event that leads up to the race on June 20.
The Infinium is the tenth vehicle built by the UM solar-car team. Last year UM placed third place with this car at the 2009 Global Green Challenge (formerly the World Solar Challenge) and this year hopes to take first place.
Five of the university's vehicles have won the American Solar Challenge (formerly the North American Solar Challenge) in the open class, and four have placed as high as third in the Global Green Challenge, but no American team has won it since General Motors in 1987.