Top 10 Most Commonly Asked Solar Vehicle Questions: 2010 Centaurus 2

1. How much does the vehicle weigh?

According to measurements and estimates made by the team, the car weighs about 565 pounds at race time. This includes a 176-pound driver, so the car will weigh 389 pounds empty.

2. How big is the driver? Is it uncomfortable in there?

The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team designed the car to accommodate a driver 6-feet tall weighing 176 pounds (80 kg). This ends up being about the size of the average person on the team. This is far different from many teams, who design their cars for much smaller drivers than those who design the car. Centaurus 2 is a departure from previous designs. New regulations in 2008 dictated that the driver must sit upright instead of lying down, as in previous cars. Temperatures in the car can easily climb above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. How fast will the car go?

The car is capable of a maximum speed of 80 mph. The speed during the race is limited to 65 mph.

4. How long will you drive in a day?

Drivers are mandated to spend no more than six straight racing hours in the car. On a sunny day, the car should be able to run at 65 mph all day. Towns, media stops, and traffic prevent a full day of racing at 65 mph, so typical distance traveled in a day on the race is around 300 miles.

5. What power does the motor produce?

New Generation Motors quotes their hub-motor with producing 12.1 peak horsepower. Typically, we would travel at 65 mph using 2.5-3 horsepower. The team is developing its own motor that will perform similarly or even better.

6. How much power does the array collect? How many     solar cells does it have?

The solar array is comprised of around 580 silicon solar cells, and produces upwards of 1200 Watts of power on a sunny day.

7. What is the car made out of?

Most of the chassis is constructed from prefabricated sheets of fiberglass paneling. The outer shell of the car is constructed from fiberglass fabric laid up over Nomex core in a special mold.

8. How long does it take to build?

The team worked on the design of this car for a year and a half, and construction of the car took approximately 1 year. It is estimated that the students on the team spent between 50,000 and 60,000 person-hours on the design and construction of Centaurus 2.

9. Who built all the components of the car including the     suspension, array, shell, battery, etc.?

Students. Each student was tasked with a particular component of interest to him or her. Students meet in weekly design team meetings and monthly or semimonthly all-team meetings to coordinate designs.

10. What does the name Centaurus mean?

Centaurus is a constellation in the sky containing Alpha and Proxima Centauri, the closest stars to Earth.