Solar-powered saloon turns heads in Oz solar race

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The ‘cruiser class’ is a sub-race of the bi-annual World Solar Challenge that is meant to bridge the gap between high end technology and everyday automobile practicality.

This year, the Dutch team Eindhoven demonstrated its new, completely solar-powered car that won universal plaudits and took the crown for overall champion thanks to its design, practicality, and innovation. The car was developed with everyday use in mind, as well as being a means of family transport.

Named the “Stella Vie’, the solar saloon can carry five people at an average speed of 69 kilometres per hour. The car has been hailed as a futuristic take on solar vehicles, and something that offers an insight into what the future may hold.

Chris Selwood, the event director, made his impressions of the Stella Vie clear. “These incredible solar cars have been designed with the commercial market in mind and have all the features you’d expect in a family, luxury or sporting car,” he said.

“Team Eindhoven are to be congratulated on their achievement to date — clearly the most energy efficient solar car in the field, capable of generating more power than it consumes.

“This is the future of solar electric vehicles. When your car is parked at home it can be charging and supplying energy back to the grid.”

Team Eindhoven said their vision had been to build a family car that combined aerodynamics, aesthetics and practical design.

“We think we succeeded very well with a car that is more efficient than its predecessors and includes some state-of-the-art technologies to not only generate energy but also supply it back to the grid,” a team spokesperson said.

“Through a smart charging and discharging system she charges the battery when the demand of energy from the grid is high, and vice versa. Any surplus energy generated can easily be supplied back to the grid.”

Only six of the 12 cars from the cruiser class race made it to the finish line, including teams from Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the U.S. and another Dutch team.