Solar Baja


UCF Zenn


Home Cars Boats Planes Other

The Ra7 built by Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, finished 2nd in the 2008 North America Solar Challenge. Several improvements to the Ra7 are being made for the 2009 World Solar Challenge in Australia. The 1400 watt solar photovoltaics provide all the cars power, and it cruises at 60 mph with a top speed of over 80.

New for 2009 is a steering wheel and new battery pack.

The Principia College Solar Car Team began in 1991 as a non-credit engineering project for an advanced physics class. In 1995 the team finished its first car, Ra, made of steel and fiberglass and powered by a belt-driven motor. This car did not qualify for Sunrayce 95 and instead served as an exhibition vehicle. Principia returned with a new car, Ra II, for Sunrayce 97 and finished 31st of 40 teams. Then, in the rain-plagued Sunrayce 99, Ra III finished 26th. In both Sunrayce 97 and 99 the team received the Safety Award for best overall safety performance, and in 1999 the team was also recognized for outstanding teamwork and sportsmanship.

Two years later, RA IV outshone its predecessors by placing 1st both in the open class and overall at the 2001 Formula Sun Grand Prix in Michigan. This achievement afforded the team nationwide news coverage from both CNN and the National Geographic Channel and led the team into the 2001 American Solar Challenge, where Ra IV captured 7th place and the Sportsmanship Award. This final standing placed the team ahead of many large engineering schools such as MIT and Stanford. Ra IV also placed 4th in the 2002 Formula Sun Grand Prix in Kansas.

Principia’s newest car, Ra 7, is unlike any of our previous cars in both her design and construction. A change in race regulations forced team members to think creatively and overcome challenging design obstacles; these regulations included an upright seating position (27 degrees or higher) for the driver and a significantly reduced array area. To meet the new requirements, the team explored new fabrication techniques for the body and upgraded the electrical system.