Blog Post

Students in the Netherlands unveil a solar-powered family car

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Will we ever be able to live in a world powered by the sun? Solar Team Eindhoven, made up of students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, has solved a crucial part of going solar: An solar-powered car that comfortably seats a family of four.

Named Stella after the latin word for “star,” the proof-of-concept vehicle comes equipped with solar cells that actually collect more energy than is used by the car’s engine, sharing surplus solar energy back to the power grid. The car’s development began just last September, and the group of 22 students across multiple disciplines of the Eindhoven University of Technology built the car from the ground up in only six months.

The materials used on the Stella’s body — carbon and aluminum — work in combination with its bullet-like aerodynamic design to maximize efficiency without sacrificing space. In addition to powerful generators and a futuristic look, the car can seat a family of four, has enough room for a trunk and even has a smart steering wheel that expands or contracts depending on how fast the car is going (a sign that the driver is either too fast or too slow). The car, which has a range of 600 kilometers or roughly 372 miles, doesn’t have a top speed available and isn’t likely to breeze past the one currently in your driveway. However, Solar Team Eindhoven does have plans to make the Stella officially street legal.

Check out a video of the Stella’s unveiling below:

Solar Team Eindhoven, which has continued to document the Stella’s development on its team website, will now move into final tests for the vehicle before entering the 2013 World Solar Challenge in Australia this October. The car will compete in the “Cruiser” class, which pits other solar-powered vehicles against each other in a 3,000 kilometer race across the Australian Outback that puts more emphasis on efficiency and ease of use than speed. After the competition, the Stella will tour Dutch schools to promote STEM education in the country.

13 Responses to “Students in the Netherlands unveil a solar-powered family car”

  1. kyotojon

    For solar cars, having the cells ON the car itself is actually not that important or interesting. It is much better just to put the solar panels on your garage and charge the car with that energy.

    The surface area of a car is so small that the amount generated will always be inconsequential. Otherwise, don’t you think Elon would have added solar cells to the Tesla? Rather, he is one step ahead, putting solar panels on the Tesla charging stations. The car above is just a fun competition for students.

    Any electric car is a solar car if it is charged with a solar panel.

  2. Willie

    Yes to the electric / solar power, No to the practicality and Hell No to the styling. The main problem still remains the batteries. Unless we find a super cell that generates a lot more power and weighs a lot less, electric cars are not practical. But yes – anything that can get us off fossil fuel has got to be researched. I suppose the beurocrats will then start taxing sunlight.

  3. fredhstein

    Why not go after the golf cart niche? 1) Dramatically lower set of requirements – speed, range, compliance, ability to survive a crash with a 2 ton SUV going 80 mph. 2) Rarely used when the sun is not shining. 3) back-up generators already in place. 4) Great way to iterate while building brand recognition.

  4. The sun does not need to be out. It has a battery that brings folks further than the average daily distance Europeans drive. And most importantly: P-r-o-t-o-t-y-p-e. It is not a production model, and it is designed with a f’ing race in mind (so of course it is spartan inside, less can break that way and it is much lighter too). A (prototype for a) production-grade model would be aimed much more at comfort, with a bigger battery to compensate for the higer power consumption of such a less lightweight and less aerodynamic car.
    And oh, let’s not forget that 22 students made this in less than a year.

    @smileandmobile: it is driving slowly because of the crowd of spectators and the fact that it is driven on the university campus (normally without motorised vehicles, by my knowledge).

  5. augyfer

    lol junk and bull s**t
    … very light weight (400lbs max) , batteries, energy from breaking , high efficient aerodynamics , high efficient cells (up to 75%..not possible yet) solar cells must be incorporated in cars painting coat…..
    AND the sun must be out …
    here are the requirements for a real solar car…good luck

  6. Very interesting concept. Still got a few things to improve on but it is by far one of the better renewable energy cars I have seen. And big props to the 22 students who built this in 6 months. That’s very impressive.

  7. Jay Gerding

    Why is there a 372 mile range? If it is running on solar power, should it not be able to drive for as long as the sun is out?

    • Probably measuring per full charge of battery by the solar energy. It’s not using a solar energy immediately/directly into the electrical engine or whatever they are using.

  8. This is great. The potential to be used in sunlight abundant countries (near equator) are immense. I hope they adapt to varying terrain and make it commercial