Much has been said about electric vehicles being the future of public and private transportation. Though EVs are improving their energy efficiency with advances in lithium-ion battery technology, it would be criminal to exclude solar-powered cars from our roads of the future.
Solar Team Eindhoven’s Stella Lux is a great example of a solar car that seeks to addresses one of the majir deficiencies of EVs namely that you need time to plugin an recharge. One of the best things about the Stella Luxi solar car is that it was developed by a team of 21 students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands . The teams main aim for this project was to design and build a car that would generate more energy than it consumed.
As of now, Solar Team Eindhoven is looking to crowdfund its sustainable mobility concept vehicle so that it could participate in Australia’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
Stella Lux Design History and Specifications
This isn’t the first time for Solar Team Eindhoven to field a World Solar Challenge entry (it had previously fielded the Stella which won in the 2013 Cruiser Class category). The Stella Lux though is considered an upgrade from the Stella with better specifications and is considerably more sustainable. Generating power for this solar car is 5.8 square meters of solar cells which also has a 15kWh battery connected to store extra power. Solar Team Eindhoven was able to test the Stella Lux’s range on a full charge in the Netherlands and they were able to push the car to 1000 kilometers. In the Australian climate (which is considerably sunnier), they estimate that this range would extend to 1100 kilometers. Although it does feature an aerodynamic body which uses carbon fibre and aluminum (materials found in a lot of performance cars), it is designed primarily for family use.
Perhaps the most novel feature of the Stella Lux is its Solar Navigator, a system that manages the energy harnessed from the sun in an innovative manner. This system collects weather data and uses this information to map out the best route for the driver to take. Additionally, you can synchronize your phone (through a companion app) with this innovative system allowing it to determine where you should go next based on your appointments. Solar Team Eindhoven also added a touchscreen touch screen navigation solution which they called Layr that increases safety when driving the solar car. This solution was designed to ensure that drivers didn’t have to look directly at the touchscreen to use it thus making it more viable than conventional GPS touchscreen solutions.
Designed for Comfort, Not for Speed
The solar cars that join the World Solar Challenge aren’t designed to best the world’s Lamborghinis or Ferraris in a quarter mile drag race. As mentioned earlier, Solar Team Eindhoven’s Stella Lux is designed primarily to make a family’s daily commute comfortable and emission-less. With a top speed of only 125 kilometers per hour and a 1000 kilometer range (at the least) on just a single charge, the car is going to be more than useful for delivering your kids to and from school than for setting the fastest lap times in the Nurburgring. For all the promise it holds, Solar Team Eindhoven still needs support and funding to prove the claim that the Stella Lux is the best solar-powered family car design of the future. Participating in – and winning – the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge should serve to enforce the legitimacy of this claim and perhaps attract the attention of established car manufacturers.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.