Sunny side up: Kyron Pijpers
The low-slung, curved roofline reminds you initially of a tortoise, but the latest solar-powered car from the Eindhoven University of Technology has a performance of which even the speediest tortoise can only dream.
The ultra-streamlined Stella Vie car, built by students in 10 months from September 2016 for the World Solar Challenge, can get up to a highly-respectable 120km/h and travel up to 1000km on a sunny Dutch day. That comes from a lithium-ion battery that generates sufficient power for 600km, topped up by another 400km from the solar panels on the roof as the car is moving.
To keep the battery charged as much as possible, one of the onboard devices is a solar parking system, which calculates which side of a street on which a driver parks will get the most sunshine.
The entire hand-built body is made of lightweight carbon fibre, but one of the most significant factors behind its performance is its extremely aerodynamic design.
Most mass-produced cars have dreadful aerodynamic performance, said Beatrix Bos, PR manager for Solar Team Eindhoven. “For example, we don’t have mirrors, which are a disaster for aerodynamics. We use a camera system instead.”
The car is a pure research project; the university brings together some of its most motivated students to produce a new model every two years, incorporating new techniques and honing its performance, she added.
The Stella Vie is being shown for the first time at the show, located at the rear of Hall 8.