The votes are in for the most practical solar-powered vehicle to compete in this year’s 3000-km World Solar Challenge, and the winner is the Stella, a four-seat family vehicle created by the Dutch Solar Team Eindhoven. Unlike a traditional race, the WSC this year judged contestants in two classes: the Challenger class, where vehicles compete on sheer speed, and the Cruiser class, created to reward designers for developing practical vehicles that meet road regulations and can hold at least one passenger.
With enough room for three passengers, cargo space for hauling groceries, and the ability to parallel park, the Stella was the clear winner. It also had one more big advantage over the competition: it was the only car in the race to have a license plate and legal road registration.
Eindhoven students carefully developed the Stella over the course of a year and a half, placing solar panels on the roof and rear. The Stella has a top speed of 120 km/h and an average speed of 67 km/h. Because the car uses only about half the power that the solar cells generate, it can actually give surplus power back to the grid when stationary.