Old Girl, Cherie Pepperell (2020) – part of the World Solar Challenge ‘Cruiser Cup’ winning team

On 29 October, the UNSW ‘Sunswift 7’ claimed its first Cruiser Cup victory at the 22–29 October 2023 (Darwin to Adelaide) World Solar Challenge.

Occurring every two years, World Solar Challenge is the world’s biggest and most prestigious solar challenge. For 36 years, it has attracted the greatest minds from around the world to Australia to push the limits of technological innovation by traveling the outback in a vehicle powered only by the energy of the sun.


Teams, usually comprising of tertiary and secondary students, traverse 3,000 kilometres from Darwin to Adelaide in a solar-powered vehicle designed, engineered and built with their own hands.

Participating teams enter their vehicle into one of three classes:

• The Cruiser Class – conducted as 3 x 1,200km stages without recharging.

• The Challenger Class – conducted in a single stage from Darwin to Adelaide.

• The Adventure Class is a non-competitive class which provides opportunity for cars built for previous events.


The CSIRO Cruiser Class entrants build advanced concept cars that test ideas that may come to market one day. Cruiser Class cars must be practical, seat a minimum of two people and manage their energy requirements over 1000km stages.


Cherie’s team built the Sunswift 7 to compete for the Cruiser Cup. To win this Cup, solar electric cars must complete the journey from Darwin to Adelaide within time windows, and as energy efficiently as possible. Out of the starting ten Cruisers, six remained in contention after a drama-filled second stage fighting strong headwinds and smoky conditions.


During the event, the Cruiser Class solar cars were also part of experiments conducted by Australia’s peak scientific body CSIRO, measuring the impact of electric vehicles on the electricity supply network. Once in Adelaide, Cruiser Class teams presented their cars to a panel of judges who awarded them a ‘practicality’ score, emulating the real-world challenges industrial designers face every day. The Cruisers were evaluated on their market potential, focusing on: design innovation, environmental impact, ease of access, driver and passenger comfort, controls, features, style, and overall and desirability.


UNSW’s Sunswift 7, which carried four passengers most of the way from Darwin to Adelaide, impressed both on the road and on the judging floor. A range of features caught the judges’ attention from the choice of off the shelf components that could potentially inspire self-made EVs, 3D printing and eco-friendly materials and processes, winning combinations of tech and team talent, touch screens and infotainment, comfortable interiors, and overall style.


MLC School congratulates Cherie Pepperell (2020) and the whole ‘Sunswift Racing’ team (UNSW) for a tremendous victory in a positive, future-focused event.