Automotive

Dutch students target solar-powered three-peat with five-seat Stella Vie

Dutch students target solar-po...
Solar Vie has room for five, compared to four people in its predecessors 
Solar Vie has room for five, compared to four people in its predecessors 
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The latest solar car to roll forth from the Technical University of Eindhoven
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The latest solar car to roll forth from the Technical University of Eindhoven
Solar Vie has room for five, compared to four people in its predecessors 
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Solar Vie has room for five, compared to four people in its predecessors 
Stella Vie will be competing at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this October 
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Stella Vie will be competing at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this October 

It's still a few months before Australia shakes off the shackles of winter and competitors in the biennial Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (WSC) are racing through the Red Center, but teams have been busy readying their steeds. The University of Eindhoven is preparing to take on the race with the five-seat Stella Vie, which has fewer solar panels than the team's previous entries, but makes up for it with a range of smart new features.

The Stella Vie follows on from the 2015 Stella Lux, which took out the Cruiser Class in 2015 and which followed on from the original Stella that took the same honor in 2013. The original was designed to prove that solar-power can be used for a family car, while the 2015 design attempted to make the first shape sexier and more practical.

For 2017, a team of 23 students set out to turn the four-seat Stella Lux into a five-seater. The resulting Stella Via was developed and built over the course of 11 months, and will run in the Cruiser Class of the WSC through the Australian outback this October. According to the team, a new 5 m2 (53.8 ft2)solar array allows the car to cover around 1,000 km (621 mi) using the energy generated on an average summer day in Holland.

Stella Vie will be competing at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this October 
Stella Vie will be competing at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this October 

The car might be 5 m (16.4 ft) long and 1.65 m (5.4 ft) wide, but it weighs just 375 kg (827 lb). Slippery aerodynamics, with a pretty curved roof and boat tail shape, mean it should be able to cover the ground at a reasonable clip, too. Top speed is pegged at 125 km/h (78 mph), identical to what last year's Stella Lux could do given a long, straight road.

Along with software that encourages the driver to accelerate and brake smoothly, a parking navigation system takes the position of the sun into account to catch the most rays while parked. After all, on a 3,000 km (1,864 mi) drive powered entirely by the sun, every last bit of energy can make the difference.

This year's WSC will run from October 8 to 15, with teams racing the usual route down the center of Australia from Darwin to Adelaide competing in three classes: Challenger, Cruiser and Adventure. The TU Eindhoven will be competing in the Cruiser Class, which is focused on practicality and payload and energy consumption taken into account. It's a class the team has dominated in recent years and they'll be looking to make it three in a row with Stella Vie.

Source: Technical University of Eindhoven

5 comments
Leonard Foster Jr
Still waiting on production cars :-(
Daishi
The numbers they post are impressive but I still think it will be a long time before panels make (technical) sense to put on production cars. On board panels don't make enough power to keep typical vehicles in motion and If you leave it parked most the time and drive it once in a while you can plug it in to external panels pretty easilly. You see experimental vehicles post like 3,410 km on a liter of fuel too but those numbers aren't achievable in production vehicles or conditions. I won't say panels will never make sense on production vehicles but I think it's a long ways away still. You might see them for other reasons like marketing or climate control while parked or something though. I don't think EV's that use power to climate control the battery and cabin while parked are going to help the climate much though.
Bob Stuart
After reading the teaser on "smart new features" I was expecting more than an electronic nag to remind the driver what he is in.
Martin Hone
Smart new features ? Something to encourage the driver (as if he/she should need any encouragement) to drive smoothly , and panels that aim toward the sun ? I think this Dutch entry are relying on their laurels this year,....
YuraG
The Kogakuin car was faster in the class, but TU Eindhoven won thanks to its being much more practical. The last word is what makes me certain that these cars have a bright future, though I don't expect them to kill an ICE any time soon.