The Nuna II vehicle has won the 2003 World Solar Challenge in Australia for cars that are powered only by sunlight. The Dutch machine completed the 3,010 km race distance in just 30 hours and 54 minutes – a record for the event.

The competition which runs from Darwin to Adelaide and attracts entries backed by big motor manufacturers is seen as a test bed for solar cell technology.

The very best cars with their sleek designs will regularly top 100 km/h in the heat of the Australian outback.

Nuna II also won the 2001 race and came back this year with a revised shape and improved aerodynamics.

Built by students from the universities in Delft and Rotterdam, the car employs developments that have come straight out of the European Space Agency (Esa).

Better than before

These include ultramodern solar cells, high performance batteries and space plastics that were originally intended for use on spacecraft.

For example, the very same batteries are now travelling on Smart 1, Esa’s lunar probe which left the Earth to map the Moon last month.

Chris Selwood, World Solar Challenge event manager, said the 2003 cars were of a higher standard than previous years.

“This has been probably the most…

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