The world’s first off-road solar car, Stella Terra, operates more efficiently than initially calculated with a range of approximately 550 kilometers, depending on the terrain.
TU/e student team Solar Team Eindhoven has reached the end point of their 1,000-kilometer test drive, from northern Morocco to the Sahara, with the world’s first off-road solar car Stella Terra. In Morocco, the solar car traveled through dry riverbeds, forest areas, along steep mountain trails, and through the loose desert sand.
“It was an incredible trip with a positive ending. Stella Terra’s efficiency was hard to predict. That’s why we weren’t sure if we would make it on solar power. During the ride, Stella Terra turned out to use 30 percent less energy than expected. We were able to drive the entire trip on the sun’s energy and did not depend on charging stations,” explains team manager Wisse Bos.
The solar energy for Stella Terra is collected by solar panels on the roof. With these solar panels and its robust construction, Stella Terra achieves complete independence in a sustainable manner, anywhere in the world. This solar car, which is road legal, has a top speed of 145 kilometers per hour, weighs only 1,200 kilograms, and has a range of 710 kilometers on a sunny day. Off road, the range averages about 550 kilometers, depending on the surface.
Building a self-sustaining off-road vehicle presents new challenges, because as far as it is known, it is the first of its kind worldwide. “Stella Terra must withstand the harsh conditions of off-roading while remaining efficient and light enough to be powered by the sun. That is why we had to design almost everything for Stella Terra ourselves, from the suspension to the inverters for the solar panels,” says teammanager Bos.
Mobility expert and TU/e professor Maarten Steinbuch is impressed with the team. “It is already difficult in normal conditions to build an energy-efficient car that can handle rough conditions, let alone to integrate solar panels into the car as well. I haven’t seen anyone do that yet. I expect that in five to ten years electric cars will be part of our entire energy grid system. And when the home battery makes its appearance, it will even be possible to generate energy via a solar car and deliver it back to your home. Solar Team Eindhoven’s innovations could change the future.”
According to Bos, Stella Terra is five to ten years ahead of the current market. “We are pushing the boundaries of technology. With Stella Terra, we want to demonstrate that the transition to a sustainable future offers reasons for optimism and encourage individuals and companies to accelerate the energy transition.”
About Solar Team Eindhoven: Solar Team Eindhoven builds innovative, efficient cars powered by the sun. The team has previously won the World Solar Challenge in Australia four times in a row, competing in the family car class (Cruiser Class). With the Stellas, the team aims to demonstrate that there are ample opportunities for a sustainable mobile future and, in doing so, encourage everyone to accelerate the energy transition.
Courtesy of Eindhoven University of Technology
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