Students in the Netherlands have built the world’s first solar-powered off-road solar SUV. Off-road vehicles are vehicles that are driven on rough terrain other than the road.
Students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands tested their vehicle ‘Stella Terra’ by driving it for 1000 km. In the test drive, they started the journey in Morocco and drove 1000 km non-stop on a single charge.
This road legal vehicle (which drives on the road like normal cars) can run at a speed of 145 km/h, weighs 1.2 tonnes and can cover a distance of up to 708 km on a clear day.
During the test, the vehicle relied on the solar panels installed inside it, starting from the coastal area in the north of Morocco and passing through the chattel plains, forests and sandy areas of the Sahara desert.
Vise Bose, team manager of the project, said that the technology behind the vehicle’s performance is a decade ahead of the technology available in the market.
He said the Stella Terra had to be lightweight to withstand the harsh environment of rugged terrain and be efficient and solar-powered. Because of this, he had to design almost everything himself, from the suspension to the inverter to the solar panels.
Engineers had to make the chassis as light as possible to enable the vehicle to be powered by the sun alone. Which proved to be extremely useful for its off-road handling as the Stella Terra was less affected by rough surfaces due to the light weight chassis and tuned suspension.
The vehicle is also equipped with a lithium-ion battery, which means that the vehicle can be charged at conventional charging stations for shorter distances in cloudy weather.