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Solar Electric Hybrid Prototype on Display in Queensland


The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Energy Research Lab (SERL) is displaying its two-seater solar electric hybrid prototype—the UltraCommuter—as part of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland’s centenary events.

Spawned by SERL’s work on the SunShark solar vehicle in 2000, the UltraCommuter is an ultra-light weight, low drag,  hybrid-electric commuter vehicle that combines photovoltaic recharging and grid recharging with a CNG-fueled range-extending generator.

Two-and-a-half square metres of solar panels provide 375 Watts of electric power, meeting 87% of the car’s total power needs and cutting greenhouse emissions by 97 percent compared to a conventional sedan (Australia’s Holden Commodore).

In sunny weather the UltraCommuter can travel up to 60 km (37.3 miles) a day on solar power alone. Drawing on power stored in its 360V Li-Ion battery pack extends this to 200 km. For longer journeys compressed natural gas (CNG) powers a 10 kW generator to feed electricity into the batteries, producing a total range of 500 km (310 miles).

The car is propelled by two 75 kW motors producing 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) torque each that sit inside the rear wheels. These motors also act as brakes and perform regenerative braking to recharge the batteries to extend the UltraCommuter’s range.

With its combined high peak torque of 1,000 Nm, the drivetrain can accelerate the vehicle from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in less than 8 seconds.

Comparing the UltraCommuter
VehicleWeight (kg)Fuel cons. (l/100km)Well-Wheel GHG (kg/100km)
UltraCommuter w/ solar 520 0.44 0.85
Ultra Commander w/o solar 520 1.6 3.5
Toyota Echo 850 6.2 16.2
Holden Commodore 1580 11.0 28.7

Fuel consumption of 0.44 liters/100km is equivalent to fuel economy of 535 miles per gallon.



Mikhail Capone


I never thought that so little surface area of PV could produce enough electricity to be anything else than trivial for a car's needs. Very promising stuff!


That is pretty amazing.


It would be really interesting to know what they think the price of one of these things would be when mass produced. I would buy one tomorrow if they were semi-reasonable.


The model on this page is an ugly color, but I'd be thrilled to drive a solar electric vehicle. Gas prices are ridiculous!

Ibrahim Osumanu

I always want to drive a solar car in Africa, bacause we have the sun for 24 hr there. This is really interesting to me and if I can have more information, I will like to introduc this car to Africa. Keep up with your good work.


I want to order that car right away. The Oil cartels now have a run for their money. Many wars in the middle east are fuelled by oil and this can potentially solve the problem for ever
Please mass produce this model for the expectant worldwide market

Brian Cole

Solar panel output hasn't been updated to reflect what's now available, i.e. 20% eff., not 15%. Why not stow a few kg of thin film pv, such as DayStarTech's LightFoil, for recharge?

The car's a mockup, student effort, work-in-progress, admirable; I wonder how the group would modify VW's awesome & operational 1-liter car. Battery EV, perhaps?

dan perkins

Dear Daystar,
I am having trouble accessing your website. This car sounds promising and I am interested in other technologies you may be working on as well. I will be
presenting three courses this year on emerging PV technologies at three different trade shows. Most of the attendees of my courses will be roofing contractors
looking to see how they can integrate these products into their offerings to their clients. Part of the course is a broad overview of the solar industry as a whole so I am interested in all aspects of your solar research.
Dan Perkins


I am looking forward to buy a hybrid solar/electric car.
When they will be available to the public?

Giridhar Rao

This is the initial stage as the time move this would revolutnise the globe very very intresting we have been working on similar electric vehical in india

John Kennedy

As a local business operator with a keen desire to promote sustainable energy solutions in a commercial sense, I would love to see your "local" prototype up here in Maryborough for the next 'Holden Technology Challenge.' It would generate incredible publicity if your prototype could go head-to-head with the 24Hr human-powered race around our city streets. This year we will be having solar powered car, boat and train races (models) so it would be fantastic to spur on our next generation with larger human carrying versions!
Keep up the good work in the "Smart State"!

Chris Dubois

I can't wait for vehicles like this to become commercially available. It'll be great to foil the greedy, criminal oil companies. Solar/Electric is the future; fossil fuel is 'sunset' technology. The only questions are, how many more years' worth of oil do we have left and how long can the oil companies resist the groundswell of support for EVs?

Ed Dejaresco

This car would be perfect for the Philippines.. . an all year round sunny place. This could tremendously reduce smog and would definitely put back cleaner air in a city!Hope this car will be very affordable to the masses and would love to see you guys would come up one day of a 'people's car' that's cheap and smog free !

Salvador Tarin

Dear friends,

I am very enthusiastic about solar cars. Could you give me some info on PVs voltage and current versus size of panels? Would you reccommend a certain type of electric motor and control? I am planning to build a "progressive" car, that is, start with batteries, control and motor and progress to solar panels. However, the size of the car would have to be considering the mandatory sizes of current solar panels.

Would you give me a hand with that?



C Robinson

Impressive work!
As a hobby, I've been collecting info to build an integrated solar/electric consumer vehicle using flexible solar panels for several years. I think this type of vehicle is very relevant for markets in the United States, where large, unused surface area really characterizes the vehicles we tend to drive (i.e. SUVs, trucks, Cadillacs, etc.) Don't forget about us over here!

Abolfzl Forouzesh

i would like to get information about prices of solar cars. Am intend to buy and sell them here in Uganda. Please avail me with deatailed info.

Best regards,


how could they increase that rate? if these cars could go at half the rate of a normal car i would definately buy one. its amazing that 2 and a half square meters of solar panneling can provide so much power. i look forward to this car being mass produced.


i am just searching a Smart Car Philippines fOr my Dad.. because He wanted me to know how to buy One of the Smart Car at the Philippines, but it seems hard for me to browse and browse without any information on where to find exactly.. :( please can someone help me! My Father wanted to see a SHOWROOM of Smart Car selling here in the Philippines; E-mail me at: [email protected]
thank you in advance!

Colin Rogers

Well done Queensland. This is exactly what the world needs. Now Kevin Rudd (you're a Queenslander) get the government cheque book out and support this to the hilt. Let's get this thing up and running AUSTRALIAN OWNED to sell to the world instead of it being taken up by overseas companies to make all the profit.


iam eagerly looking for such solar plus electric
car 2 in 1 or 3 in 1
where i can such car please infor me

ayub ansari

iam eagerly looking for such solar plus electric
car 2 in 1 or 3 in 1
where i can such car please infor me

ayub ansari

i would like to get information about prices of solar cars. Am intend to buy and sell them here in Jharkhand. Please avail me with deatailed info.

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