Eindhoven University of Technology’s “Stella” — a relatively “normal-looking” solar-powered four-wheeler, normal by solar-car standards anyways — took first place in the Michelin Cruiser class at this year’s World Solar Challenge race in Australia.
Billed as “the world’s first solar-powered family car,” Stella completed the 3,000 kilometer journey from Darwin to Adelaide using nothing but the energy of the Sun, all while providing ample space for passengers. Developed in the Netherlands, Stella was designed to comfortably seat four people, while still possessing the ability to obtain respectable speeds, and as a result has notably different design parameters than a solar car like, say, the super-fast Nuna7.
The biannual cross-country race drew more than 40 participants this year, representing a total of 24 different countries. The Michelin Cruiser class in which Stella competed is judged on a combination of different factors, not simply speed — the goal is practicality, or to put it more directly, “the ultimate goal of an entrant (is) being able to meet the requirements for road registration in the country of origin.”
Elaborating on the first place finish in a blog post, Solar Team Eindhoven states:
After the time finish and the unofficial arrival in Adelaide, the team had to overcome one more obstacle. The practicality score on Saturday would be added up in order to determine the overall winner. The team was being judged on several aspects like comfort, features, styling and aesthetics but also parallel parking and cargo space.
A combination of time, recharging from the mains, the number of passengers and the final jury verdict on Saturday decided that the students from TU/e really were the World Champions in solar-powered family cars.
“We’ve set the new standard,” states team manager Lex Hoefsloot. “After one-and-a-half years of hard work we’ve not only proved that the world’s first solar-powered family car is now a reality, but at the same time we’ve won the World Solar Challenge.”
Also, here’s a short video about the car: