The University of Michigan Solar Car Team began in 1989. The first car, the Sunrunner, originally raced in 1990, finishing first place in the GM Sunrayce and third in the worldwide competition. Twenty-three years later, the group is stronger than ever. The team is made of four different divisions: Engineering, strategy, operations, and business. The UM team, the biggest and best in the nation, uses a $1.2 million budget to build the fastest sunlight-powered vehicle it can within the competition's restrictions.
The 11th vehicle the team built is called the Quantum. It runs on an in-hub, brushless electric DC motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Regulations allow for six square meters of space for the silicon solar cells. The car looks like a table and might only have 12.3 horsepower, but it can jet up to 105 mph. Made almost entirely from carbon fiber, the Quantum is only 320 pounds, 200 pounds lighter than the previous Infinium.
The ultimate goal of the car is to win the 1,800-mile Veolia World Solar Challenge in Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. After finishing third in four of the past five attempts (including last year), the team is already hard at work on its next car for the 2013 race.