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TU/e student team unveils solar-powered family car for World Solar Challenge

The Solar Team Eindhoven (STE) of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) presented the world’s first solar-powered family car. “Stella” is the first “energy-positive car” with room for four people, a trunk, intuitive steering and a range of 600 kilometers (373 miles). This is the car being entered by the student team in the Cruiser class of the World Solar Challenge that starts in Australia in October 2013.

Stella
Stella. Click to enlarge.

The solar cells of Stella generate more electricity on average than the car uses; surplus electricity could be returned to the power grid, thereby making the car energy-positive.

By combining aerodynamic design with lightweight materials such as carbon and aluminum, Solar Team Eindhoven designed a very fuel-efficient car. Intuitive driving is enabled by a steering wheel that expands or contracts when driving too fast or too slowly. STE will have the car officially certified for road use to prove that this really is a fully-fledged car.

University teams from all over the world will be competing in a 3,000 km long race through the Australian outback. Solar Team Eindhoven is taking part in the Cruiser class in which the emphasis lies on practical and user-friendly solar cars rather than on speed. The solar race takes place from 6 to 13 October 2013.

Comments

mahonj

I wouldn't like to be in one of those when a truck goes by at 60 mph.
So maybe not suitable for "real" roads, but might find a use in retirement communities etc where you have a need for lower speed transport.
Does anyone have any numbers, like, how much power it can generate, and what speed it can go at ?
I couldn't get the Dutch website to translate.

HarveyD

What is simply amazing is that 22 students can do more, with regards to vehicle efficiency, than the car industry has done in the last 100 years?

Park this vehicle outside and you can go to work and back free.

Arnold

I wish I'd thought of the expanding steering wheel, my high tension HTV steer wheel mounted speed limiter idea was not well received.

E-Biker

I bought a little r/c drone quadcopter, and I had to ask myself if this technology could not be used for ordinary transportation. Forget roads. Tow a banner of solar cells if you like, but leave the trucks below. And stick 'em on rails.

Jelmer

@mahonj: Stella's solar panel produces around 700-900 Watts on average in The Netherlands. Its maximum speed is 120 kmph (75 mph), which is with four people inside.

Jelmer

btw: Stella is only 1.15 m high, so the winds caused by trucks will mostly blow over the car :)

Arne

There is a series of youtube videos (english subtitles) where the students tell about the different aspects of the car and the projects.

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@HarveyD, any car manufacturer could have come up with this. But this is simply not a marketable, mass-produceable vehicle. You do find these kind of engineering experiments at autoshows and they're called 'concept cars'.

Look at the vids and you'll get an idea why this car can't be mass produced for an affordable price. I very much doubt it would meet saftey regulations too, so a lot more weight would have to be added to make that happen.

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