The University of Michigan Solar Car Team has done it again, this time winning its seventh American Solar Challenge by the largest margin of victory in history.

The 2012 challenge for solar-powered vehicles began on July 14th in Rochester, New York and ended July 21 in St. Paul, Minnesota, encompassing 1,650-miles and over 44 hours of drive time. Even with some rain delays and storms, the University of Michigan team members guided their car Quantum to victory, winning by 10 hours and 18 minutes over Iowa State University and setting a national record in the process. The previous record was set in 2008 by a different U-M car, Continuum.

“This is the seventh North American title for the U-M team, which won the inaugural event in 1990 with its first car, the Sunrunner.It is exciting and a relief,” said crew chief and recent grad Ryan Mazur. “We have proven that Quantum is a great car and made all our alumni proud.”

Quantum is U-M’s lightest vehicle yet, weighing in at just 320 pounds without a driver – a full 200 pounds less than their last car, Infinium. It is also 30 percent more aerodynamic than that car, requiring the same amount of energy to run as a hair-dryer and capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 105 miles an hour. It cost more than $1 million to design and build,

Financial assistance and sponsorship from IMRA America, Michigan Engineering, Ford and General Motors helped to cover the $1 million cost of this year’s solar car.

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team is a student organization made up of over 100 students which designs and builds its own solar-powered vehicles, building 11 such vehicles since its inception in 1990. In addition to the American Solar Challenge in the Spring, the team takes an entire semester off in the fall to participate in the 1,800 mile World Solar Challenge. Its highest placement for that race has been third place, which it has repeated four times.

[via University of Michigan]

Image Credit: University of Michigan Solar Car Team