A team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) just unveiled an electric car that seats five and is completely powered by the sun. Called Stella Vie, the vehicle stands apart because it’s more efficient than all solar cars before it. Even with fewer solar panels on its roof, the car is capable of a range of about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) on a warm summer day.
According to the students, Stella Vie is “the car of the future.” Charged by the sun, the solar-powered vehicle can reach speeds up to 130 km/h (80 mph) and it also contains new, smart technology such as a parking navigation system that takes into account the position of the sun when parking (so it can keep charging). Like a Tesla, Stella Vie also uses the latest technology to warn drivers of upcoming traffic events. This allows for safer and more efficient driving.
According to TU/e, Stella Vie was designed to find the most efficient route and show how much energy can be saved compared to a standard, fossil fuel-powered car. Any surplus energy that is generated by the vehicle can be supplied back to a house or the electric grid. Additionally, the smart charging and discharging system keeps track of energy prices and daily use to find the best time to recharge and discharge.
All in all, 23 students worked together to develop the car which is competing to win TU/e’s third world title at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which will take place this October in Australia. The competition requires the solar-powered cars to run 3,000 kilometers through the Australian outback. Stella Vie will compete in the Cruiser Class (for practical cars), where technical innovation, battery consumption and the number of occupants that can be transported are taken into account by judges.