RAC Cars News


Solar Team Einhoven Is Energy Positive

By raccars Published

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Whilst the rest of the world is still catching up with the idea of mass market electric vehicles, a team of Dutch university students are developing the next stage in fossil fuel alternatives, the solar powered car. Solar Team Eindhoven's 'energy positive family car' will be competing in this October's World Solar Challenge, in which it will race across Australia to show how solar technology can be put to practical use as an automotive fuel.

The 21 students of Eindhoven's University of Technology have put their studies on hold for 18 months to develop the Stella Lux project, a sequel to 2013's Stella, the original solar powered family car. Stella won the World Solar Challenge that year and the team is hoping Stella Lux will defend that title.

Solar Team Eindhoven's objective is to create genuinely sustainable mobility through solar power, and the students have great passion for their subject. The second Stella, Stella Lux, is lighter, more luxurious and more efficient than the first car, with the team claiming to have learned valuable lessons from the earlier project. Not only does Stella Lux use solar power to run on instead of fossil fuels, it actually produces surplus energy, even in soggy Northern European weather conditions.

The team has worked hard to produce a vehicle which is as comfortable and convenient as it is energy efficient - even if it looks nothing like any car you've ever seen. It includes features such as smart navigation, so that Stella Lux can devise the best route for a journey, taking weather conditions and the driver's calendar into account. Not merely a futuristic form of transport then, but also an automated personal assistant?

It has five doors and can carry four adults, albeit without any luggage space. It's long, wide and low but weighs only 375kg. Power is provided by 381 solar cells with 15kWh of back up battery power on board, and the car can get to 77mph. At home in the Netherlands, solar conditions give Stella Lux a 621 mile range, which in Australia's sunnier climes, will increase to 683 miles. Range overnight is about 400 miles.

The vehicle was revealed last week and Solar Team Eindhoven is now seeking investment through crowdfunding, to be able to take part in the World Solar Challenge this October. So far, the goal of £128,000 remains out of reach, with only £18,300 raised. The challenge will see Stella Lux run from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia, an 1,800 mile trip, with only one battery recharge permitted.

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