An unusual-looking vehicle was turning heads during a test run in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Solar-powered vehicle Sophie
Solar-powered vehicle Sophie. Photo: GovHK

The solar-powered car, which was developed by engineering students at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), can travel at up to 70 kilometres per hour. The team behind the car, which they named Sophie, obtained a temporary permit allowing it to operate at certain times in the city.

The vehicle even made its way through the Tai Lam Tunnel where toll booth operators categorised it as a “private car.”

Solar-powered vehicle Sophie
Solar-powered vehicle Sophie in Tai Lam Tunnel. Photo: GovHK

The hour-long test run started at the IVE institute in Tuen Mun and terminated at another IVE institute in Tsing Yi.

Solar-powered vehicle Sophie
The solar-powered vehicle ‘Sophie’. Photo: GovHK

According to the IVE Sophie Team, the project began in 2009 with the aim of encouraging students to demonstrate what they had learnt in classrooms by inventing environmentally-friendly solar vehicles. The team has produced a new, fifth generation solar powered vehicle, which is set to compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia this November.

The World Solar Challenge, which is divided into three categories, tests participants on their energy management technologies. The most efficient electric vehicle will win the championship.

YouTube video

In 2013, the Sophie Team was awarded the third runner-up in the “World Solar Challenge” in Australia.

Eric Cheung

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).