Stella Vie the new stan­dard

Dutch stu­dents re­fine so­lar car to seat five adults

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - ALWYN VILJOEN

STU­DENTS in So­lar Team Eind­hoven have al­ready showed the world that it is pos­si­ble to cre­ate an en­ergy ef­fi­cient fam­ily car in first the Stella and then Stella Lux so­lar car.

Their next step aims to make so­lar cars both sexy for com­muters and user friendly for fam­i­lies. They will do this by prov­ing Stella Vie’s abil­i­ties in the Bridge­stone World So­lar Chal­lenge that aims to push the lim­its of new so­lar tech­nol­ogy in Aus­tralia in mid-Oc­to­ber.

The tech­no­log­i­cal univer­sity will send a team of 23 stu­dents to com­pete in this bi­en­nial race, which this year al­lows all so­lar-pow­ered cars to have only five square me­tres of so­lar pan­els.

The team will again com­pete in the Cruiser Class. This class sees ve­hi­cles with one or more pas­sen­ger seats drive 1 000 km on sun­light only. It is ex­pected that the Stella Vie will be the only car to seat five peo­ple in the so­lar race.

THE CAR FOR EV­ERY­DAY LIFE

The Eind­hoven team said on their web­site that “Vie” is both French for “life” and for the Ro­man nu­meral “V”, or five, as Stella Vie is the first so­lar pow­ered fam­ily car to seat five peo­ple.

This third it­er­a­tion of the Stella cars is lower than most con­ven­tional sports cars, but big doors and roof han­dles make ingress eas­ier.

The in­te­rior fea­tures body-con­toured seats and in­tu­itive con­trols for both driv­ing and in­fo­tain­ment.

FORM FOL­LOWS FUNC­TION

While de­sign­ing the aero­dy­namic shell of Stella Vie, the team pur­sued a per­fect balance be­tween aero­dy­namic and aes­thetic de­sign.

The re­sult of this process yielded a car body that in­cludes some well-known au­to­mo­tive de­sign fea­tures while also be­ing nine per­cent more aero­dy­namic than its pre­de­ces­sor, Stella Lux.

Al­though Stella Vie has a smaller bat­tery and a so­lar ar­ray that is one square me­tre smaller, it still achieves a range of 1 000 km on a sunny sum­mer day in the Nether­lands.

The sur­plus en­ergy gen­er­ated by Vie can be sup­plied back to a house or the elec­tric grid.

The smart charg­ing and dis­charg­ing sys­tem keeps track of en­ergy prices and the user’s agenda in or­der to find the op­ti­mal time to charge or dis­charge.

Stella Vie’s charg­ing sta­tus can also eas­ily be checked through its con­nec­tion with a smart ther­mo­stat.

EF­FI­CIENT DRIV­ING AS­SIS­TANCE

Through its up­dated so­lar nav­i­ga­tor, which now takes gra­di­ent maps into ac­count, Stella Vie finds the most ef­fi­cient route and shows how much en­ergy you will save com­pared to a stan­dard fos­sil fuel-pow­ered car. When ap­proach­ing the des­ti­na­tion, Vie will of­fer park­ing as­sis­tance. If en­abled, Vie’s built-in so­lar park­ing sys­tem will use gra­di­ents, weather data and a park­ing prob­a­bil­ity map to guide you to a free park­ing spot.

The cho­sen park­ing spot is the one within range of the des­ti­na­tion which yields the most so­lar en­ergy.

While driv­ing Stella Vie uses the lat­est V2X tech­nol­ogy to warn the driver to an­tic­i­pate up­com­ing traf­fic events, which al­lows for safer and more ef­fi­cient driv­ing. Fi­nally, it also en­cour­ages the user to drive as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble by giv­ing sub­tle feed­back through a built-in light­ing sys­tem, this sys­tem warns the driver by turn­ing red when ei­ther brak­ing or ac­cel­er­at­ing too fiercely.

PHO­TOS: EIND­HOVEN UNIVER­SITY

The new five-seater, full-elec­tric Stella Vie can do at least 1 000 km us­ing only sun­light as fuel.

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