• ACCIONA Energía and Deakin University’s contender to the World Solar Challenge unveiled. A 3,000-kilometre race across the country powered only by the sun.

Students, supporters, sponsors and media have gathered in Geelong for the unveiling of ACCIONA Energía and Deakin University’s contender for the next World Solar Challenge to take place in 2023.

The bi-annual 3,000-kilometre race, to be held from 20-27 October 2023, has cars travel from Darwin to Adelaide across Australia’s remote outback and challenges university students to design, build and pilot a car powered exclusively from solar energy.

ACCIONA Energía’s partnership with Deakin supports undergraduate students in a number of fields to gain hands on experience delivering a major multi-disciplinary and collaborative project from concept to delivery.

As the first declared Victorian contender for the 2023 race, Deakin and ACCIONA Energía are carrying the state’s expectations on their shoulders. It will be the first Australian solar challenge in four years after the 2021 race was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students from the Faculty of Business & Law and the School of Communication and Creative Arts have been involved in developing marketing and promotional and digital plans for the car.

Engineering students from the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment have been responsible for constructing and assembling the car including the all-important placement and wiring of the vehicle’s cutting-edge solar panels.

Nearly 1,000 students from a diverse range of faculties have been involved in the project over multiple years to deliver the vehicle codenamed ASCEND.

Standing for Acciona Solar Car ENgineered by Deakin the vehicle was unveiled at an event during Geelong’s acclaimed ‘Design Week’.

Faced with race cancellations and students unable to work on the car due to the pandemic the construction phase has required as much endurance as the race itself.

The disruption over the last two years has required students to think creatively and use innovative technologies, distributed design and engineering to solve the challenge of building a complex and multi-disciplinary vehicle. Students built home workshops and makeshift research and testing labs to experiment, design and validate and collaborate with their peers over video calls.

The ASCEND vehicle has been designed in the vein of the classic grand tourer with a modern twist. Deakin University’s engineering faculty aimed to design a car that handles and performs like a grand tourer that is as comfortable in the outback as it would be on a city block.

The project shows the potential for solar powered cars to one day be part of Australia’s transportation mix.

 Deakin University will enter the vehicle in the ‘Cruiser’ division. The 3,000km race will be split into three 1,000km intervals.

Winners will be judged based on several factors including payload, energy consumption and a subjective element of 'practicality'. Judges will also be looking for designs that standout and give vehicles a desirable point of difference.

The 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will commence in October 2023.