Eindhoven wins Cruiser class of World Solar Challenge

They had to wait a whole day after the last part of the competition, but at 20:00 hours local time on Sunday in Adelaide the Solar Team Eindhoven students knew they’d done it.  Their car Stella, world’s first solar‑powered family car, is the winner of the Cruiser class of the World Solar Challenge 2013.

Excitement-packed finish
Students of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) had been leading the race’s Cruiser class right from the start with their car Stella, but they saw German and Australian teams catching up on them in the final stage. In an excitement-packed finish, Stella completed the race at 13:00 hours on Friday 11 October, after a 3,000 km journey with an average of three people on board. Their average speed during the Challenge was 67 km/h. Top speeds of 120 km/h with a full load of four people were no exception.

After the time finish and the unofficial arrival in Adelaide, the team had to overcome one more obstacle. The practicality jury score on Saturday would be added up in order to determine the overall winner. The team was judged on several aspects like comfort, features, styling and aesthetics but also parallel parking and cargo space. Being the only one with a license plate, the road registration of Stella added up in the final score.

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. Event Director Chris Selwood said that after more than 3,000 kilometres it was perhaps fitting, in a category that was intended to bridge the gap between high-end technology and driving practicality, that the results would come down to practical design and the ability to appeal to everyday drivers.“I congratulate Team Eindhoven on their innovation, practical design and foresight, to think outside the square and add the extra seats. ‘Stella’ is a wonderful solar car in a field of exceptional cars and teams. I look forward to 2015 and the prospect of more cruisers as we work toward the world’s most efficient electric car,” Chris said.

The Netherlands is strongly represented in the Race to the Sun: in the Challenger class which finished earlier this week, Delft were the champions with Nuna7 and Twente took third place.

Solar Team Eindhoven
There’s a great sense of relief among the students from TU/e. By winning the Race to the Sun they’ve underlined their vision: building the family car of the future. “We’ve set the new standard”, said 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.”

The student team of TU/e created a totally new car concept and built a prototype in just one and a half year. The car is a solar powered family car that gets its energy directly from the sun via solar panels on top of the car. The car is ultralight, extremely aerodynamic and has an exceptionally efficient drive train, with electrical motors in the wheels, a sophisticated energy management system and a minimal battery pack. In a country like The Netherlands the solar panels provide more energy than the car consumes in 10 months of the year. This excess energy can be supplied to the grid. Stella hence is a car that can help solve the energy problem.