The Cannonball Sun team, a trio of college students who aimed to be the first to trek across the country in a solar vehicle, had to call it quits on Wednesday in Logansport, Indiana when they faced an insurmountable technical issue. But the engineering students say they’re undeterred and will find a way to race the car they built — Pink Skies — again soon.

“We are absolutely heartbroken,” said Will Jones, an engineering student and co-founder of the Cannonball Sun. “But Pink Skies will definitely hit the road again in the future.”

Jones, together with his friend, Kyle Samluk, who’s an engineering student at Michigan Technological University, started building their solar vehicle, which is powered entirely by the sun, in the fall. When school let out, it became a full-time project, and the pair poured about 14 hours a day into the endeavor.

The plan was to drive from New York City to Los Angeles over the course of two weeks. Their goal was to promote renewable energy and electric and solar vehicles.

Jones and Samluk, who were joined by another MTU engineering student for support, departed Manhattan on June 24.

By day seven, the team had covered 761 miles and made it to Logansport, Indiana. But at that point, the drivers met a challenge they couldn’t overcome: The car’s motor controller shorted, which destroyed their battery management system.

To rectify the issue, they required custom parts made in China that take months to manufacture. “There was no possible way to have the parts rushed and shipped,” Jones said.

Due to the global microchip shortage, all microcontrollers have risen in price and are harder to obtain.

The Cannonball Sun was sponsored by Charge Across America, the US’ first cross-country EV race, and ParkMyFleet, a mobility company.

“I’m so impressed with their valiant effort,” said Mike Landau, CEO of ParkMyFleet. “I’m sure there are plenty of engineering students who have talked about attempting to build a solar car and drive across the country. But these guys actually went out and tried. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Jones and his crew said they’re going to take a moment to reflect on what they accomplished, what they can improve, and hatch a plan to complete their mission.

“We are planning on taking a deep breath, creating a plan,” Jones said, “and completing the Cannonball Sun sometime in the future.”

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