Startup explores commercial opportunities SolarCar
Atlas Technologies – the startup of former students of the Technical University Eindhoven – explores whether the family car powered by solar energy, could be a commercial success.
During their study, the former students designed the solar family cars Stella and Stella Lux.
These solar-powered cars won in 2013 and 2015, the World Solar Challenge, a race for solar cars.
Solar Team Eindhoven
As a new student team prepares for the World Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia, the former members of the Solar Team Eindhoven started a company to examen whether and how family cars powered by solar energy can be successfully marketed.
According to Lex Hoefsloot, one of the founders of Atlas Technologies and former member of the Solar Team Eindhoven, the startup is investigating a number of development directions:
“For example: should we focus on components or on the complete SolarCar?”
Lex Hoefsloo tis convinced that SolarCars will be indispensable in next 5 to 10 years to come. “If we want to transform to a society on renewables, solar cars are a vital piece of the puzzle that is still missing.”
According to Hoefsloot the Stella car retrieves about 60,000 kilometers per year on solar power. “Knowing that virtually no one drives that much, we’d best make a more luxurious or heavier variant of that car.”
Stella was the brainchild of two students who started with the idea that solar-powered cars “don’t look like cars” – it was time to make them practical for everyday use. At the same time, the electric car does not have range, which is why it is not as popular as it could potentially be.
The idea therefore was born of the need to combine the practicality of the electric car with the range of the SolarCar, settling on a battery-solar-panel combination. This gives Stella the unique ability to drive for 800 kilometers without charging.
Expressly built for the World Solar Challenge that took place in Australia, Stella managed to bag the top prize: it completed and won a six-day, 3,000-kilometer, Darwin to Adelaide race across the Australian outback, with an average speed of 67 km/h and with three people on board. 47 teams from 26 countries competed in the challenge, while only 16 managed to finish the race.
The car also achieved a top speed of 120 km/h with a full load of four people, demonstrating the horsepower of this solar-powered vehicle.
Already approved for the roads in Europe — Stella is road-legal in The Netherlands — the car’s design team expects that mass production can happen within five to 10 years as this four-seater design is suitable for large-scale manufacturing and can be assembled from readily accessible materials and components.
Stella generates more power than it consumes: the average number of kilometres Stella can run on solar power in The Netherlands is 70 per day. Compared to the 37 km that an average car travels in the country per day, Stella is able to use this excess energy to power in-car facilities as well as home utilities. Drivers, after parking, can just plug into the car for power.
Smart city concept
Part of the idea behind Stella’s development was to make traffic smoother, safer, and less polluting, but also to make cars smarter and able to communicate with other transport systems.
“Stella’s car-to-car communications capability aligns with the type of next generation traffic management solutions that Singapore is exploring, such as the ATOP (Automotive Telematics On-board unit Platform) initiative which allows cars to wirelessly collect real-time traffic data, enabling drivers to find the optimal routes and allowing authorities to manage congestion more effectively,” says Loh Kin Wah, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, NXP Semiconductors.
In addition to sponsoring Stella, NXP provided car-to-car communications technology which uses the specialist automotive Wi-Fi standard, 802.11p, to transfer data with the mission control car. A lot of the technology was developed by NXP’s Singapore research and development lab.
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