September 25, 2005

Solar-power cars set off across Australian outback

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Twenty-two bug-shaped solar cars
designed and built by corporations and universities from around
the world set out across the vast, inhospitable Australian
outback on Sunday in the eighth World Solar Challenge.

Japan's Sky Ace Tiga car, from the Ashiya University in
Osaka, led off after qualifying fastest for the 3,000 km (1,860
miles) race across the center of Australia from the tropical
north city of Darwin to Adelaide in South Australia.

Ashiya University's Professor Kunio Nakagawa said his
team's car, one of the race favorites, was capable of speeds
averaging 95 kph (59 mph).

"The first target is hoping to finish this race with safety
and the second target is to get a top-three position," Nakagawa
told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Dutch team Nuna 3 returns after winning the past two races
in 2001 and 2003 and is joined by entrants from 10 other
countries, including the United States, France and Canada.

Nuna 3 set the race-record time of 30 hours 54 minutes in

Race leaders were expected to reach Adelaide by mid-week.

The race was devised as a challenge to design and build
solar-powered cars using the most innovative application of
alternative energy and transport technologies.