Monday, May 20, 2024

TU/e students unveil Stella Terra, the world’s first off-road solar car

Many car manufacturers are switching from fossil fuel-based engines to electric vehicles to support net zero carbon emissions. However, electric cars have a limited range; hence, they cannot travel long distances on a single charge, which is unsuitable for long rides or trips.

Car manufacturers are researching and developing longer-range electric cars by installing bigger batteries and battery saving features. However, the single charge range problem of the EVs remains the same.

To overcome this problem, a team of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology named Solar Team Eindhoven has developed Stella Terra, the first of its kind, self-sustaining off-road car powered by solar energy, making it independent of charging stations.

Stella Terra is a robust car enough to navigate on paved roads and rough terrain. It has solar panels mounted on the roofs that collect solar energy, giving the car a more extended range. With these solar panels and the robust design, Stell Terra sustainably achieves complete independence.

Solar Team Eindhoven claimed that Stella Terra is the world’s first off-road solar car. This solar car is road-legal and can reach a top speed of 145 km/h (90 MPH). The Stella Terra weighs only 1200 kg (2645 lbs) and has a maximum range of over 630 km (391 miles) on a bright sunny day, making it one of the longest-range sustainable cars available 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,” said Wisse Bos, team manager of Solar Team Eindhoven.

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 encourages individuals and companies to accelerate the energy transition.”

Stella Terra has undergone extensive testing in the Netherlands. However, the variety of landscapes is limited in the Netherlands. Therefore, the team will be leaving for Morocco this month. The off-road solar car will undergo extensive testing, traveling over a thousand kilometers through various terrains and completing a journey through the Sahara Desert.

Solar Team Eindhoven has previously won the World Solar Challenge in Australia four times in a row, competing in the family car class (Cruiser Class). The team had built a solar-powered campervan, Stella Vita, and traveled to the southernmost point of Europe with it and made headlines worldwide.