Dutch Car Crosses Finish Line First in Solar Stakes

A Dutch-designed solar vehicle dubbed the Nuna II crossed a finish line in Australia yesterday to win the 2003 World Solar Challenge. The race, which covers 1,870 miles from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide in the far south, is seen as a proving ground for new solar technologies. Thanks to the relentless sunlight in the Australian outback, the cars can often exceed 60 miles per hour — and indeed, the Nuna II covered the entire distance in just 30 hours, 54 minutes. The Dutch entrant, which also won the race in 2001, uses technology developed by the European Space Agency, including ultramodern solar cells, high-performance batteries, and specialized plastics. Overall, 22 teams competed in the race, with an Australian team taking second place and a U.S. team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology coming in third.