the Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge last October—the best finish ever for an American student team. The route is a brutal 1877-mile haul across the Australian outback between Darwin and Adelaide, during which the teams race for nine-hour days on public roads using only the power of the sun.
This hand-built one-off, has a three-part body and chassis made of prepreg carbon-fiber components. The suspension bits are gloriously minimalistic CNC-machined aluminum pieces supported by ZF coil-over dampers.
Brembo motorcycle calipers do the stopping. Even the steering yoke, a removable job festooned with switches, buttons, and accelerator and regenerative-braking paddles, is made from carbon fiber. And the fully shrouded front wheels actuate windows in the bodywork that pop out to accommodate full-lock steering.
its multijunction gallium arsenide solar cells made by the German firm Azur Space. They yield a 10 to 12 percent efficiency advantage over less costly silicon cells and represent a disproportionate amount of Novum’s total expense. And it is a wildly expensive thing. The solar array alone is roughly a $200,000 proposition.
Add in the rest of the components, and Novum represents about $800,000 in parts. The program’s budget is $1.2 million all in, but that doesn’t include the more than 30,000 student hours it took to build it.