U-M Solar Car Team to Compete in World’s Toughest Race with New Batteries

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team set to compete in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge — considered the world’s toughest and most prestigious solar car race — will use next generation lithium ion batteries supplied by Amprius Technologies Inc. in Fremont, Calif.
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U-M solar car
The U-M Solar Car Team will use next generation lithium ion batteries supplied by Amprius Technologies Inc. in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia. // Photo courtesy of U-M

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team set to compete in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge — considered the world’s toughest and most prestigious solar car race — will use next generation lithium ion batteries supplied by Amprius Technologies Inc. in Fremont, Calif.

The 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge requires teams to design, develop, and pilot a solar-powered vehicle along a 3,000-kilometer transcontinental Australian route from the northern city of Darwin to the southern city of Adelaide. The race goes from Oct. 22-29.

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team is a student-run organization of more than 150 undergraduates and postgraduates that builds, tests, and races highly competitive solar-powered electric vehicles on national and international competition circuits.

For 2023, the team is focused on incorporating novel manufacturing and assembly procedures to optimize performance. The team evaluated various battery options and ultimately selected Amprius cells over competitors based on their industry-leading high-power density and lightweight design.

“We are excited to work with Amprius as we have been following the technology for some time,” says Will Jones, project manager of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team. “Amprius’ cells stood out compared to other batteries we tested and showed a superior level of performance giving us confidence they can withstand the challenging conditions experienced throughout the race.

“At the last Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2019, our team finished in third place. Our new partnership with Amprius is a part of our strategy to close that gap and elevate our performance to new heights.”

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team has been a participant in the solar car race since 1990 with its first vehicle, the Sunrunner. This year marks the 13th time the University of Michigan Solar Car Team has built a car for the race.

This year’s car, dubbed Astrum, will be officially unveiled on July 14, after which it will begin testing and prepare for a mock race around the state of Michigan before shipping to Australia in August.

“Amprius was founded from Stanford University research, so supporting collegiate STEM programs is close to our heart,” says Kang Sun, CEO of Amprius. “The University of Michigan’s Solar Car Team brings a long history of excellence and is considered the most successful solar car racing team in the Western Hemisphere.

“Our industry-leading silicon anode batteries enable (a) long run time while enduring wide temperature and pressure ranges — ideal for the arduous conditions the University of Michigan team will face Down Under.”

For more information on the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, visit here.

To learn more about the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, visit here.