Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dutch-built solar car combines an outer-space exterior with everyday practicality

A group of Dutch engineering students has developed a solar-powered car with the intention of proving a vehicle motivated by sunlight can be used every day.
The Dutch students of Solar Team Eindhoven stand proudly behind "Stella," the team's 4-passenger solar-powered car which will compete in the 2013 World Solar Challenge.
Young engineering students from around the world are hard at work, getting ready for the 2013 World Solar Challenge set to be held in Australia from October 6-13
The friendly competition is meant to inspire teams to build the most efficient, streamlined and, in many instances, absolutely otherworldly-looking vehicles imaginable.
Solar cars need lots of solar panels, as you can imagine, so the predominant styling theme is a long, flat, shingle-like shape with room for only one onboard.
That’s not the case for an enterprising group of students from Eindhoven University of Technology, located in Eindhoven, Netherlands, roughly 80 miles south of Amsterdam.
Their goal was to take a new approach to the construction of a solar car, to develop something much more functional than the typical spaceship-on-wheels design.
The cabin has room for four adults and, we're assured, even cup-holders will be included. That's a good thing, considering the car will need to travel roughly 1,800 miles through the Australian Outback.
“The project started with the first ideas in March last year, we wondered why there was no car yet that is practical, comfortable and drives purely on solar energy,” Lex Hoefsloot, team manager Solar Team Eindhoven, told the News.
“We did the math and came to the conclusion that it was possible. We started to gather a team of 20 students…they all put their studies on hold to work on this project.”
“In one year we made the concept, design of the car, and we started production in February of this year. We managed to get the car driving in the beginning of July!”
Competing in the World Solar Challenge’s Michelin-sponsored ‘Cruiser’ class, the team’s car is nicknamed “Stella.” The dimensions are close to that of a normal car, even if the forward-thrusting canopy and tapered tail give the vehicle a wildly futuristic look.
A long drive demands a lot of solar panels.
At 177.1 inches long, overall length is comparable to a Honda Civic sedan. The solar car’s height of 47.2 inches is closer to that of a Ferrari 458 Italia, however. (Though you’d never, ever confuse one for the other.)
“Stella” happens to be based around a carbon-fiber chassis – like the type used in many supercars – but the sun-powered car’s frills and features are kept to an absolute minimum.