The world’s first solar-powered family car – Stella, built by a team of Dutch university students – has won the award for ‘Best Technology Development’ at the 8th Annual Crunchies Award in San Francisco.
The 21 students in Solar Team Eindhoven from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) beat big names like Apple, SpaceX, Bitcoin and European Space Agency (ESA) to win the award for ‘Best Technology Development’ with Stella.
“We’ve demonstrated a new vision for the car of the future, and thanks to this prize we’re gaining recognition for this achievement,” says Stella’s team manager Lex Hoefsloot. “This shows that they also think that this is the future in the Unites States”.
Roy Cobbenhagen, the team’s technical manager, calls the victory ‘a kind of David and Goliath show’. “It’s incredible that we as a student team are ahead of all these big-name companies. The fact that we’ve won the Best Technology Development prize clearly shows the potential of solar-powered cars, and how we as students see the future of mobility,” he says.
Supplying energy instead of using it
In 2013, the TU/e students developed, designed and built the whole new concept of an electric family car powered directly by solar energy. Stella is ultralight, exceptionally aerodynamic and has an extremely efficient driveline, with motors in the wheels, advanced energy management and only a minimal battery system.
With average use in the Netherlands, the solar panels provide 10 months worth of surplus energy per year. That extra energy can be supplied to the power grid. Which means that Stella is a family car that, on balance, provides energy instead of using it.
Students from Solar Team Eindhoven are currently working on developing a next-generation solar-powered car, pushing the technology further. They are planning to give the car its first public showing on 2 July 2015, and to defend their title at the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October 2015.