The annual Shell-Eco Marathon challenges student teams around the world to design the best ultra energy-efficient vehicle, which is then put to the test during racing events in Asia, America and Europe. At this year’s event in Rotterdam, the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) set a new fuel efficiency record in the urban concept – battery electric group, by equipping its ‘Elba’ vehicle with thin solar cells made by Midsummer.

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The Shell Eco-Marathon challenges collegiate teams from around the world to make their electric vehicles travel as far as possible using the energy equivalent of one liter of fuel, and this year 198 teams from 27 countries across Europe participated in the competition.

Related: 3,587 MPG Hypermiling Vehicle Wins 1st Place at the 2013 Shell Eco-Marathon!

The winning KTH team competed in the race with its “Elba” electric car, which used thin solar cells to power the electric motor. KTH modified last year’s Elba car with custom-made solar cell modules placed on the vehicle to optimize the exposure of the sun. Their end goal is to send as much solar-generated power to the electric drive system as possible.

“The solar cells needed to be integrated into the car’s design,” said Alex Witt, Production Manager at Midsummer. “The only possible solar solution that would integrate in Elba’s aerodynamic shape was Midsummer’s flexible thin film solar cells on stainless steel, which could easily follow the curved body of the vehicle without cracking. This solution would have been impossible with silicon solar cells as they crack easily.”

After two attempts, KTH’s Elba electric car set a new Swedish record at 181.5 km/kWh, which is the equivalent of traveling 98 miles for a total cost of 15 cents. Elba finished in fifth place behind teams from France, Germany and Norway.

KTH stated, “We came to the eco-marathon for the champion, which is always our goal. But we are also very proud of the result we achieve since we did’t have as much budget as the top teams.”

+ Swedish Royal Institute of Technology