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U of M solar car team to unveil new car June 26

New team, new car gear up for race across America in July that ends in St. Paul

What: University of Minnesota solar car unveiling

When: 8-9 a.m. Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Where: University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus outside the Engineering and Fisheries Laboratory, 1955 Fitch Avenue, St. Paul (if raining or windy, the event will be next door in Ruttan Hall, Room B25, 1994 Buford Avenue, St. Paul); parking available in the Gortner Avenue Ramp, 1395 Gortner Ave., St. Paul

Contacts: Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering,, (612) 626-7959
Matt Hodson, University News Service,, (612) 625-0552

June 21, 2012

The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team will unveil its newest solar-powered car at a special event for the media and sponsors at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 26 at the University’s St. Paul Campus outside the Engineering and Fisheries Laboratory, 1955 Fitch Avenue, St. Paul.

Those attending will be among the first to see the new car take a test drive, view the car's inner workings, tour the Solar Vehicle Project team’s shop, and hear from members of the team about their upcoming race.

This is the first public viewing of the car in preparation for the 2012 American Solar Challenge, a 1,600-mile race starting in Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday, July 14 and ending in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday, July 21 at the State Capitol Mall.

The University of Minnesota is among 18 teams from the United States and Canada competing this year in designing, building and driving a car completely powered by the sun. Other eams include MIT, University of Michigan, UC Berkeley and Georgia Tech, to name a few. The University of Minnesota’s #35 solar car won first place at the 2011 American Solar Challenge’s Formula Sun Grand Prix track race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The University of Minnesota’s new car, named Centaurus III, is a completely new generation design from the university’s previous nine solar vehicles. The most noticeable change is the new design that incorporates improved aerodynamics and cutting-edge electrical technology. This year’s car also is unique because all of the car’s parts have been custom-designed by students. The current car is just over 3 feet tall, about 16 feet long and nearly 6 feet wide. It weighs just under 400 pounds.

More than 40 University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering students are on the team. Team members estimate that they’ve collectively spent more than 50,000 hours over the last year planning and building the solar car. Materials for the U of M’s solar car were funded through cash donations and in-kind donations of parts and materials.

In addition to the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, major sponsors of the University of Minnesota’s solar car include 3M, Altium, Cirrus Aircraft, Delta Airlines, PAR Systems, Caterpillar, Earle M. Jorgensen Company, University of Minnesota Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, General Plastics, Vicor, Clarizen, Stratasys, and B&K Precision. Several University of Minnesota academic departments in the College of Science and Engineering also contributed including the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics.

For more information on the history of the university’s Solar Vehicle Project team and photos of the previous nine cars, visit

Tags: College of Science and Engineering

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