The University of Michigan's M-Pulse Wins the American Solar Challenge

August 13, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

The winners of the 2001 American Solar Challenge, the world's longest solar-car race, have been announced. The University of Michigan's M-Pulse completed the ten-day, 2,247-mile race in an accumulated time of 56 hours and 11 minutes. The University of Missouri team finished second, with a running time of 80 minutes longer, and the University of Waterloo placed third.

The 42 solar-electric cars started driving on July 15, 2001, racing from 8a.m. to 6p.m. The rules of the race required that the cars were powered only by photovoltaic cells covering the upper surfaces of the single-person vehicles. The race followed historic Route 66 from Illinois, through Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

On flat surfaces, the cars reached speeds of 70mph. The winning car averaged 40mph. Obstacles faced included navigating city traffic, high-speed interstate highway travel, and the desert heat of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as climbing through the lower Rocky Mountains. The racers were from engineering colleges in the US, Canada and England, with one entry from a high school in California and another from a racing club in Italy.