Driving with the sun


Power from the sun to drive a vehicle remains elusive if you need to contemplate long distances. Such was the mission set in September, 2017 when Mark and his wife Denny French drove a Suzuki four wheel drive across the Simpson Desert in Queensland, a distance of 378 km in four days, 21 hours and 23 minutes setting a Guinness world record in the attempt.

The car used in the attempt is now on display the Shepparton Motor Museum along with the 36 microcrystalline solar panels used to collect the energy required. Energy was stored in on-board lithium batteries.

The Suzuki had its motor removed and a 17 kW, three phase electric motor was installed in its place. The electric motor was adapted to the original Suzuki drivetrain.

Mark French, a design engineer specialising in electrical and mechanical engineering designed and built the car for the attempt.

The Simpson is possibly the most difficult terrain to attempt to cross which is its obvious appeal to daredevils.

While this particular solar car was an experimental vehicle, fully electric powered vehicles deriving their energy from the sun are now on the road in Shepparton with the Greater Shepparton City Council having recently acquired  two electric cars for their fleet. The council has a charging station connected to solar panels on the roof of the building.