Australia's University of New South Wales has broken the Guinness land speed record for a solar-powered car -- about 55 miles per hour.

The car, built by the university's solar racing team, is called the Sunswift IVy. It looks like a tabletop because the solar panels and the car needed to be as light and aerodynamic as possible. It also only carries one passenger.

To qualify for the Guiness World Record, the IVy had to maintain speed over a distance of 500m to the end of the run and back. Both runs have to be within an hour of each other. The vehicle must be powered only by the sun - no batteries are allowed. The previous record was set by the General Motors Sunraycer, which traveled 48 miles per hour, in 1987.

The car wasn't just faster than the General motors version - it was also more efficient. The Sunraycer used about 1,500 watts to reach its top speed. The IVy was able to do it on 1,050 watts, with a maximum power output of 1,340 watts - about the same power as the average hair dryer.

In a statement, the team said the gains in efficiency are largely due to improvements in solar power technology and changes in the materials

Daniel Friedman, Sunswift's project manager, likened the car to Formula One racing. No one will ever really own a solar powered vehicle... you wouldn't put your groceries in a Formula One car, you develop technology in a Formula One car that makes its way down to commercial technology.