Meet the fu­ture fam­ily car

AL­WYN VILJOEN con­tin­ues to rave about the sin­gle most im­por­tant car of the 20th cen­tury

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

TOM SEL­TEN Team man­ager, So­lar

Team Eind­hoven “We see a fu­ture where ev­ery­body drives a so­lar car, where all cars pro­duce energy in­stead of con­sum­ing it.”

WHEN Wheels first re­ported on Stella, the so­lar-pow­ered fam­ily car built by stu­dents in So­lar Team Eind­hoven (STE) from the Eind­hoven Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (TU/e) in Oc­to­ber 2013, we raved about it.

When Stella be­came road le­gal in July last year, we re­peated our won­der, say­ing “the stu­dents’ main achieve­ment was ‘mak­ing a so­lar-pow­ered fam­ily saloon that is ready to go on sale in the real world”.

The stu­dents last week pre­sented their sleeker, com­plete so­lar-pow­ered won­der to the world.

Now called Stella Lux, this so­lar­pow­ered car gen­er­ates more power than it uses. Stop. Re-read the sen­tence above. Sure, it sounds like a per­pet­ual power ma­chine and the to­tals are the­o­ret­i­cal, but on bal­ance the Stella Lux is en­er­gy­pos­i­tive, which means it goes at least 1 000 km on a fully-charged bat­tery pack.

The team plan to prove this by com­pet­ing in the Cruiser Class of the Bridge­stone World So­lar Chal­lenge in Aus­tralia on Oc­to­ber 18, 2015.

So­lar Team Eind­hoven has set it­self the goal of de­vel­op­ing the car of the fu­ture.

By com­bin­ing the aero­dy­namic de­sign with light­weight ma­te­ri­als like car­bon and alu­minium, the Eind­hoven stu­dent team have once again come up with a very energy-ef­fi­cient de­sign. Stella Lux can reach a range of 1 000 km on a sunny day in the Nether­lands.

Ex­cess energy can be re­turned to the power grip, help­ing to deal with so­ci­etal prob­lems re­lat­ing to the use of energy.

This year the stu­dent team are once again tak­ing part in the bi­en­nial Bridge­stone World So­lar Chal­lenge in Aus­tralia.

The race for so­lar-pow­ered cars cov­ers a dis­tance of 3 000 km, and goes right through the heart of the out­back from Dar­win to Ade­laide.

The Eind­hoven team com­pete in the Cruiser Class for fam­ily cars. Here the em­pha­sis is on build­ing a prac­ti­cal, user-friendly so­lar-pow­ered car, rather than on pure speed.

The team won the Cruiser Class ti­tle in 2013 with its first car, Stella. This year’s race places more em­pha­sis on speed than in 2013, which is why they have de­cided to build a new and lighter car with fewer seats, while still go­ing for a fully-fledged fam­ily car.

“By de­cid­ing to fur­ther im­prove on our so­lar-pow­ered four-per­son car, we’re once again aim­ing to win while at the same time prov­ing that this energy-pos­i­tive fam­ily car of­fers a vi­able fu­ture sce­nario”, said So­lar Team Eind­hoven’s team man­ager Tom Sel­ten.

Af­ter the World So­lar Chal­lenge the ad­ven­ture doesn’t stop for the stu­dents.

Af­ter Aus­tralia there will be a tour through the Nether­lands, China and maybe the USA in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the spon­sors.

“With Stella Lux we want to take the next step in bring­ing a so­lar car to the con­sumer.

“There­fore we want to show Lux to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble and we hope to in­spire them.

“We see a fu­ture where ev­ery­body drives a so­lar car, where all cars pro­duce energy in­stead of con­sum­ing it,” said Sel­ten.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

So­lar Team Eind­hoven’s stu­dents with Stella Lux, a fam­ily car in which forms fol­lows func­tion to de­liver a dif­fer­ent type of stream­lined de­sign.

PHOTO: YOUTYUBE SCREEN GRAB

The in­te­rior of the Stella Lux is more spar­tan than lux­u­ri­ous, but as it was de­signed by Mil­lenials, it has the oblig­a­tory seven-inch dis­play screen and a dock­ing sta­tion for a tablet, as well as funky LED lights along the white strips that func­tion as warn­ing lights.

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