ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA: A futuristic Dutch family car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies energy back to the grid was hailed as "the future" Sunday as the World Solar Challenge wrapped up.
The innovative bi-annual contest, first run in 1987, began in Darwin a week ago with 41 vehicles setting off on a 3,000-kilometre (1,860-mile) trip through the heart of Australia to Adelaide.
Dutch car "Nuna 9" won the race for the third-straight time, crossing the finish line on Thursday after travelling at an average speed of 81.2 kilometres per hour (55.5 mph).
It was competing in the Challenger class, which featured slick, single seat aerodynamic vehicles built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency.
But there was also a Cruiser class, introduced to bridge the gap between high-end technology and everyday driving practicality.
German team HS Bochum was the first to arrive Friday with its stylish four-seater classic coupe, featuring sustainable materials such as vegan pineapple leather seats.
But another Dutch team, Eindhoven, was set to be crowned overall champion based on a system taking into account design, practicality, energy efficiency, and innovation, organisers said.
Their family car, "Stella Vie", carried five people at an average speed of 69 kilometres per hour, with event director Chris Selwood saying it was a practical demonstration of what the future might look like.
"These incredible solar cars have been designed with the commercial market in mind and have all the features you'd expect in a family, luxury or sporting car," he said.
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