General Motors has been a staunch supporter of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team since the team’s inception, and we have been delighted to partner with them again as we prepared to race Novum both across the Australian Outback and along the Oregon Trail! In addition to the financial support from General Motors, having access to GM vehicles throughout our design and build cycles were critical.
We have utilized vehicles that GM provided not only to our team, but also to the entire Wilson Student Team Project Center. The team has used the vehicles for everything from making runs to pick up materials and parts for the car to taking the car to an elementary school to teach young students about the importance of STEM education and the future of renewable energy. Having access to the Suburban gave us the ability to take large numbers of team members to downtown Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, allowing us to represent our team and sponsors at this important event. And having access to the GMC Sierra and multiple Silverado trucks has made it easy to trailer Novum to where the team needs her to be, particularly for race-critical purposes like on-road testing or caravan training. The ability to train on road, make supply runs, attend meetings with sponsors, and interact with the public helps the team function like a well-oiled machine. Mobility means a lot to our operational efficiency.
Use of the GM cars as caravan vehicles during our current mock race and the 2018 American Solar Challenge, where we seek our seventh consecutive title, is extremely valuable. All our caravan vehicles provide crucial race support and help us race safely and smoothly. 2018 Operations Director Vignesh Jagathese describes, “Without GM vehicles, we wouldn't be able to race 1,800 miles through the American heartland to go after our 10th American Solar Challenge title. GM vehicles form an integral part of our fleet, from our Chase Vehicle, which acts as our mobile mission control and houses our Head Strategist and Crew Chief, to our Lead Vehicle, which drives directly ahead of the solar car and advises upcoming road conditions.” These vehicles have been critical during our mock race and will continue being integral as we go on to race across the country.
We are grateful for GM’s continued support in providing both these vehicles and financial support. The team is looking forward to continuing collaboration with GM!