The club team of Taiyo Yuden Co Ltd, "Taiyo Yuden Club Team" (hereinafter Taiyo Yuden) is participating in the "2008 World Solar-Car Rally (WSR), an endurance rally of scratchbuilt solar cars.
The rally took place from July 25 to 28, 2008, in Ogata-mura, Akita Prefecture, Japan.
"It is the first time in the world that a vehicle equipped with die-sensitized solar cells participate in a famous solar car rally like this one," said professor Hideki Kimura of the School of Engineering, Tokai University, who has been taking part in solar car rallies for many years.
Engineers and researchers from Taiyo Yuden as well as other companies and universities visited the event site. Being impressed, they said "You have done something that we hesitated to do."
They hesitated because die-sensitized solar cells, film-based ones in particular, still have a room for improvement in terms of durability. If the vehicle retires due to the loss of generating function during the rally, its popularity heightened by its first participation could result in a negative image for the company.
Taiyo Yuden was the 19th, about the intermediate level, among the 32 entry teams, which include Japan Inter-college Solar & FC car Championship (JISFC), in the preliminary time trial, according to the interim results released prior to the final day (July 28).
However, this preliminary was a 400m race called "zeroyon" and one of the participants said, "Outputs of batteries and capacitors that store electricity generated by solar cells as well as mechanical parts contribute more to the result than the performance of solar cells."
The running distance of Taiyo Yuden's solar car was 200km, as of the second day of the finals. In respect to running distance, the team was in the fifth place among the eight teams, which belongs to the solar cell-only class, using vehicles of about the same body size.
The first day of the finals was clear and sunny all day, and the sunlight was strong. The second day was also fine and clear from morning till early afternoon. The weather was obviously unfavorable for the solar car of Taiyo Yuden, which expected cloudy weather, but it seems to be doing pretty well.
(Continue to the next page)