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The Dutch Uni students have done it again – with an off-road EV

 

OTA has previously reported on battery electric vehicle (BEV) milestones achieved by students at Eindhoven University in the Netherlands and this time they’ve shown that their practical, off-road BEV vehicle could travel long distances without more than solar charging.

 

 

Its developers, Solar Team Eindhoven, initially believed the vehicle, Stella Terra, would have a shorter range than the 550km it achieved on its maiden leg across North Africa.

The record breaking journey began in Morocco, where the car handled steep gravel roads and traversed dry riverbeds and forests, before it reached the Sahara.

 

 

“It was an incredible trip with a positive ending,” said Wisse Bos, manager of Solar Team Eindhoven. 

“Stella Terra’s real-world efficiency was hard to predict, which is why we weren’t sure if we would complete the scheduled trip on solar power.

“However, Stella Terra used 30 percent less energy than expected, so we were able to drive the entire trip on the sun’s energy and did not depend on charging stations.”

 

 

The design team knew that Stella Terra would have to handle the harsh conditions of off-roading, while remaining efficient and light enough to be powered by the sun, so the students designed almost everything themselves.

Most off-the-shelf solar panels and converters are about 15 to 20 percent efficient, but the panels used on Stella Terra are said to be more than twice as efficient at turning sunlight into electricity as anything that’s currently for sale.

Coupled with this unprecedented photovoltaic efficiency was the vehicle’s light weight design. There were no available chassis and suspension designs that suited the role, so the The Team designed and built their own components, managing to make a lightweight car that tipped the scales at 1200 kilograms.

 

 

Essential to this weight reducing design was minimal battery capacity, similar to that of a plug in hybrid vehicle (PHEV), which provides around 50km of battery-only power. A normal BEV has much more battery driving range, but weighs at least twice as much as Stella Terra.

When the sun is shining, Stella Terra’s battery is charged while the car is driving, so the battery doesn’t have to be very big or heavy, which is a problem most EVs have.

 

 

Although Solar Team Eindhoven has a great deal of experience building solar vehicles and has previously won the World Solar Challenge in Australia four times in a row, the Team knew that Stella Terra had to be a practical off-road vehicle, as well as being efficient.

The car has fully reclinable seats that can be used as a bed and its charging capabilities allow it to run camping appliances and recharge phones and computers.

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