This Solar-Powered Concept Car Includes a Kitchen and a Shower
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What did you do at university? Party hard? Dye your hair green? Tell people your highschool nickname was “Ace?” No? Me neither…
Either way, the students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands operate a little differently.
The university’s “Solar Team” has been competing in the World Solar Challenge for several years, but the current crop of students have really raised the bar.
They have designed and built a solar-powered electric car, or, more accurately, a solar-powered house on wheels, equipped with a working kitchen and shower.
The creation has been named the Stella Vita camper, and it will be put to the test in a few days’ time as it embarks on a 1,865 mile road trip across Europe.
Houses aren’t the only thing that can utilize solar power.
How does a solar house on wheels work?
Reported by New Atlas, this ambitious concept vehicle was designed and built by 22 students from Eindhoven’s public technical university.
It is powered by 94 square feet of solar panels fitted to the roof, which can harvest enough energy to supply a 60-kWh lithium-ion battery as the vehicle drives along. When parked, additional solar panels fold out from under the roof, increasing the solar canopy to 188 square feet.
The designers believe this will generate enough energy to cook in the kitchen, take a hot shower, and of course drive the thing, without needing any supplementary power from traditional EV charging stations.
What is it like inside?
Thanks to an ingenious pop-up roof, a parked Stella Vita camper is surprisingly spacious. A driver and passenger can stand up straight and move around with ease.
Aside from the compact kitchen block and shower, the interior contains bench seating with built-in storage, a TV, a dining table, and a cozy sleeping area.
As noted by New Atlas, there is no mention of a toilet, but the students plan to stop at designated campsites on their journey which should offer those facilities.
The driving cabin is the most impressive looking part of the interior. It features a large center display which includes stats on energy use and storage, in addition to speed, temperature, and other important info.
Behind the driver and passenger doors, this crazy electric car also boasts two huge, additional doors which can swing open to let in fresh air when the vehicle is stopped.
How far can it go?
The Solar Team claims that the vehicle has a top speed of 74.5 mph, and can travel 450 miles per day in bright sunlight.
When the battery is fully charged, it can travel over 370 miles without needing any sun. There is no mention on how long it will take to fully charge the battery if it runs flat though.
While this is very much a concept car, the students are planning a 1,865 mile “European Solar Tour,” which will see them drive the Stella Vita all the way to southern Spain. Stops are planned in Brussels, Paris, Madrid, and plenty of other cities on the way.
Why don’t more EVs use solar power?
While a solar-powered car sounds like a great idea, especially in sunnier climes, very few electric car makers have seriously considered the technology.
Solar panels need a large surface area to absorb enough sunlight, and a car’s roof has very limited space.
Consequently, in order to generate enough power, solar cars must be made from ultralight materials, which are expensive to manufacture, and not very crash resistant.
However, some companies are exploring solar as an alternative to a plug-in power source. In fact, the first mass-produced solar car was unveiled earlier this year, by a Californian company called Aptera Motors.
It’s hyper futuristic body looks more like The Batmobile than a Tesla, but on a clear day, the car can drive 40 miles without supplementary power. This is way more than the average American’s daily commute.
The Aptera still needs to pass safety tests before you can buy one, but if all goes well, we might see other automakers following suit and investing more heavily in solar-powered electric cars.