The biennial World Solar Challenge is the world's biggest solar car race which covers 3000 km across Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. OWL, an advanced solar-powered car developed by Kogakuin University using Teijin's carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) for its chassis and body structure, participated in the race from Japan and finished in second place.
The concept of OWL
The race is divided into three separate classes and Kogakuin participated in the Cruiser Class. Participants in the Cruiser Class race with one driver, one passenger and a restricted amount of luggage in each vehicle. There is a practical scoring method and OWL focused on reducing transit time as it accounts for 70 percent of the score.
Drag minimization is the most important task for the World Solar Challenge participants. OWL has a large tunnel in the middle of the vehicle under the two-seater body to reduce its frontal projected area as well as ensure comfort while clearing the regulations. The frontal projected area is reduced by using leading arms for the front suspension and trailing arms for the rear and placing them in front of and behind the tires and driver.
This article appeared in the May/June issue of Reinforced Plastics.