Never mind that this solar-powered car looks like a streamlined humpback whale covered with high-tech barnacles. The SolarWorld No.1 can hit a top speed of 75mph, and averaged 45mph over an 1864-mile race course without once stopping at a gas station. Solar cars are getting so advanced, those stats were only good enough for this vehicle to place fourth in the 2008 World Solar Challenge, held this month in Australia.
Designed by a group of 50 students and their professors, it looked cool enough to win the Best Challenge Class Design Award. Form follows function, too, with its single motor driving the front wheel at an impressive 94% efficiency, a far cry from the 26% efficiency of a typical internal combustion engine. Maybe that solar Prius is an even better idea than we thought.