The Eindhoven University of Technology’s Solar Team Eindhoven student team has completed a 1,000km test drive of the world’s first off-road solar car, Stella Terra.
The Solar Team Eindhoven comprises 22 students that are working on the development of energy-efficient solar vehicles.
During the testing, the solar car travelled through dry riverbeds and forests, along steep mountain trails and through the loose desert sand from northern Morocco to the Sahara.
Stella Terra uses solar panels on its roof to collect energy, but building a self-sustaining off-road vehicle presented new challenges.
Team manager Wisse Bos said, “Stella Terra must withstand the harsh conditions of off-roading while remaining efficient and light enough to be powered by the sun. That is why we had to design almost everything for Stella Terra ourselves, from the suspension to the inverters for the solar panels.”
The solar car, which is road legal, has a top speed of 145km/h, weighs 1,200kg and has a range of 710km. According to the company, the off road range of the vehicle averages about 550km – more efficient than was originally anticipated– depending on the surface.
“It was an incredible trip with a positive ending. Stella Terra’s efficiency was hard to predict. That’s why we weren’t sure if we would make it on solar power. During the ride, Stella Terra turned out to use 30% less energy than expected. We were able to drive the entire trip on the sun’s energy and did not depend on charging stations,” added Bos.