Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 20, 2013

A car powered by the sun

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A vehicle expected to travel through Traverse City on U.S. 31 on Monday might turn a few heads.

The slick-looking auto is completely powered by an array of solar panels and a battery.

“It’s fully street legal and our races are on public roads,” said Pavan Naik, a senior business development manager for the University of Michigan solar car team.

The solar car, Generation, is in the middle of a trip around Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, and is expected to pass through Traverse City somewhere around 1 p.m. on Monday.

New regulations for solar car racing “mandate a four-wheeled car, which is a major departure from previous designs, Naik said.

“Our new design is very revolutionary,” he said. “We are doing this in preparation for the world Solar Challenge that takes place in Australia.”

The University of Michigan solar car team is a student-run organization. It takes two years to build a car, organization members said, with a race crew of about 20 people. Generation weighs more than 500 pounds, has a carbon fiber chassis, a lithium ion battery and silicon cells. Its anticipated top speed is 105 mph with a maximum power of 12.3 hp.

Naik said the solar team is a lot of fun has a good purpose.

“The solar panels that we use are space grade,” he said. “They cost a lot.”