It might seem like the most obvious clean-transportation solution, combining solar power and electric vehicles, but we have not seen much on this front, at least, not until now.
True, some electric vehicle owners have solar power installations on their rooftops, and even some chargers on the Tesla Supercharger network are solar powered. Still, even those are not 100% solar powered, drawing at least something from the grid, much of which is still fossil-fuel powered. For those looking to eliminate their carbon footprint, at least on the transportation front, drivers will probably have to make some sort of sacrifice. In the case of solar-powered electric vehicles, this most likely means reducing travel or reducing the vehicle.
“The Stella,” a project by Solar Team Eindhoven, made up of students at Netherland’s Eindhoven University of Technology, is actually more like something you’d find at Australia’s World Solar Challenge (WSC), but with a twist. Most cars on the WSC could never pass as a road-worthy vehicle, stripped of all comforts, such as lights, airbags, insulation, and air conditioning, to name a few. Indeed, there is not much to WSC solar-powered electric vehicles other than wheels, a seat, solar panels, batteries, and an aerodynamic shape to reduce drag. Good luck putting your groceries in there.
On the other hand, “The Stella” is probably the world’s first solar-powered family electric vehicle. It has a top speed of 75 mph, can carry four people, and even has room for groceries in the trunk. A battery electric vehicle, it has a range of about 500 miles, about 66% better than the Tesla Model S 85 kWh. Even better, the onboard solar panels, 1.5 kW worth, continuously charge the battery pack, and one would likely never have to plug in the car!
Image © Solar Team Eindhoven