For the third year now, the student team from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has taken first place in the “Cruiser Class” at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia.
The “Cruiser Class” is the division for solar cars that could be practical in the real world — owing to seating capacity, range, etc.
Very impressively, the Eindhoven team’s solar car transported 5 people (for much of the trip) around 3,022 kilometers (1,878 miles) while only using 48 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. The trip was completed by the team with an average of 3.4 persons per kilometer traveled.
To explain that further, the Cruiser Class allows flexibility with regard to the occupant load, with the goal being to transport passengers in the most energy-efficient way possible. So, that being the case, when the energy is available (depending upon solar car design), it may well make sense to load the car up with passengers — if a decent travel speed is still possible while doing so, that is.
Green Car Congress provides more: “The team arrived on Friday morning in Adelaide after a journey of 3,022 kilometers (1,878 miles), the final 250 of which was covered with 5 people aboard and at an average speed of 70 kilometers per hour (43.5 mph). The whole journey was completed with an average of 3.4 persons per kilometer, using 48 kWh and gained a maximum score of 20 out of 20 for practicality on Saturday.
“… The aim of the Cruiser Class is to transport as many people as possible 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) from Darwin to Adelaide in the most energy-efficient way. The Eindhoven team drove the first 1,500 km (932 miles) with five occupants aboard. To move one person 100 kilometers the solar-powered car uses 0.4 kiloWatt hours (kWh). By comparison, a modern electric car requires about 8.5 times as much energy to do the same job. Thanks to the efficiency of transporting the most number of people possible, the team had already build a significant lead in points by day two.”
The Eindhoven solar car does indeed sound like a practical vehicle, and I admit that as far as cars go, I find it pretty compelling … though, obviously, maintenance and collision safety are perhaps limiting factors as far as real-world use goes.
Notably, the Challenger Class event — to determine the fastest single-occupant solar-powered car in the race — was won by a Dutch team as well, in this case from Delft University.