This is the Sunswift IVy, and it just recently broke the Guiness world land speed record for solar-powered vehicles on January 7, beating GM’s Sunraycer to the top spot. GM’s Sunraycer previously clocked 78 kph back in 1988 using 1,500 watts of solar power, while the Sunswift IVy managed to hit 88 kph using just 1,050 watts.

The IVy is shaped like an airplane wing, which is basically the shape of a teardrop, which is the most efficient aerodynamic shape for minimizing drag. The IVy’s shape is designed for minimum lift and minimum drag. Hard to imagine, but it can fit one very small person.

Its footprint is about the same size of an average sedan but it’s only half the height and 10% of the weight of an average car. It’s powered solely by solar energy, and by calculations, the Sunswift IVy should technically have been able to achieve 115 kph at peak power (Sunswift says equivalent to what’s needed to toast two slices of bread) and an estimated average speed of 85 kph. However, during the test day, the clouds didn’t allow peak energy to be reached.

Its chassis is monocoque and made of carbon fibre, while the suspension uses a double wishbone at the front and a trailing arm at the rear. Steering is rack and pinion. It uses only three carbon fibre wheels, wrapped with Dunlop Solarma tyres. Solar power charges a lithium polymer battery weighing about 24.75 kg, which in turn powers a brushless CSIRO three-phase 1,800 watt 98% efficiency DC motor.

The whole program cost about US$280,000 and took 18 months to complete. Look after the jump for a couple more photos of the IVy.

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