© TU Eindhoven / Bart van Overbeeke

The solar family car concept developed by the Solar Team at the University of Eindhoven with the help of Axians won the 2017 World Solar Challenge 2017 and captivated the jury.

“Beyond the victory in Australia, what we are proudest of is having covered more than half of the 3,000 km race with five people in the Stella Vie, the car we designed and built. We see that achievement as vindicating our goal of producing a family car with all the usual functions of that class of vehicle, powered by the sun alone.”

Speaking for the Solar Team, the group of students at the Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands) that won the World Solar Challenge for the third time in October 2017, Beatrix Bos, who is in charge of public relations, says that the outcome of the race, in which the Stella Vie very rapidly took the lead, is highly positive.

“This victory validates our plan to build a family car, with all the functions of that class of vehicle, powered by the sun alone.”

“It was not so much the fact that some of our competitors had technical problems as the fact that our strategy and our concept were the right ones.” The car strikes a good balance between aerodynamics, appearance, and practicality.

The jury gave the Stella Vie the maximum number of points for practicality and commended the “most energy efficient solar car in the field, capable of generating more power than it consumes.”

Once it returns to the garage, Stella Vie can be connected to the home’s power system to feed in the electricity it has not consumed on the road. “This is the future of solar electric vehicles,” said the members of the jury, impressed.

Beatrix Bos confirms that the Eindhoven students will now be working “to concentrate, in the run-up to the next race, on the functions of the car, which they consider a demonstrator,” a prototype designed for use by automakers.

Smart driver assistant

Industry has already expressed interest in the advanced “Smart Advice Engine” technology used in the car this year. Developed by Team Eindhoven partner Axians (VINCI Energies), the calculator has several functions. As Edwin Kanis, Axians Marketing Manager in the Netherlands, describes it “the Smart Advice Engine is a smart driver assistant that analyses road and weather data to advise the driver of the best route and speed pattern that will optimise energy.” The “smart assistant” also helps with parking. Here too, the calculator compiles data, in this case sunlight and map data, “to define the best parking space to recharge the batteries.”

Lastly, again based on a highly diverse range of data, “the calculator manages smart battery charging and energy injection into the home grid.”

Edwin Kanis also draws a very clear-cut conclusion from the World Solar Challenge 2017 victory, which indisputably brings the prototype closer to the commercial phase. Discussions are “already under way with automotive manufacturers about industrialising the smart advice assistant.”