Though a crash left its car damaged in the Australian Outback last month, the University’s Solar Car Team is already making plans for another race.
On Monday, the team announced its intention to compete in the American Solar Challenge 2014, an eight-day, 1,700-mile race from Austin, Texas to St. Paul, Minn.
But after the damage sustained at the World Solar Challenge in Australia, the team’s latest car, Generation, won’t make an appearance in the next race. The car was pushed by a gust of wind while at a stop on the fourth day of the race, causing it to fall into a ditch. Instead, the team announced plans to race its previous model, Quantum, a three-wheeled vehicle that weighs about 300 pounds and can reach 105 mph.
LSA junior Ian Sullivan, the team’s interim business director, said members, sponsors and alumni carefully evaluated both cars in the decision to enter the upcoming race.
The team concluded Quantum could provide opportunities for younger engineers to cooperate with recently graduated alumni who had worked on Quantum during their time on the team.
Though Generation was not totaled in the crash, it won’t arrive back in Ann Arbor until at least January. Sullivan said that timetable would not provide enough time to retrofit the vehicle and prepare it for the race.
“It takes a while to get a car halfway around the world,” Sullivan said.
Generation would also require additional redesigns regardless of its condition for an American Solar Challenge, which has different specifications for participating cars than the World Solar Challenge.
Sullivan didn’t comment on specific factors composing the team’s evaluation of Generation and Quantum.
“We decided Quantum would give us the best chance to win the race,” he said.
Quantum won the American Solar Challenge in 2012, completing the race 10 hours earlier than the next-fastest competitor.
Sullivan said the team has not ruled out the possibility of Generation returning to compete in future races. He said the car would be evaluated once it returns to Ann Arbor from Australia.