Dutch students test-drive the world’s first off-road solar vehicle in Morocco

Image shows the 'Stella Terra', solar-powered vehicle designed by students at the Technical University of Eindhoven.
Image shows the 'Stella Terra', solar-powered vehicle designed by students at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Copyright Reuters
By Euronews and Reuters
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The two-seater, road-legal ‘Stella Terra’ model is powered via solar roof panels and has a 630 km range on a sunny day.


On a sunny day in Morocco, a small, green, oddly shaped car snaked its way through the country’s dense forests, mountain trails and desert sands powered only by the sun shining above.

The 1,000km test drive of the 'Stella Terra', the world’s first off-road solar vehicle, according to its makers, was completed by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology to showcase the potential of sustainable transport.

"We tested Stella Terra extensively. We started in the north of Morocco and we drove over a thousand kilometres through various landscapes to finish our journey in the Sahara - all powered by the sun," Britt van Hulst, the team's project finance manager, explained.

The car has been designed for rough and wild terrains and is capable of travelling over 630km in a day if the sun shines, with an off-road range of approximately 550km, depending on the terrain.

The two-seater Stella Terra harnesses solar power through its rooftop panels meaning it has no need for charging stations or fuel.

The team completed their solar-powered journey on Sunday, October 15, with Stella Terra performing above expectations with just a few minor adjustments en route, such as replacing a broken steering rod.

Still, the team behind the car insisted their vehicle beat expectations, ultimately using 30 per cent less energy than expected.

Their custom-made converter for the solar panels was more efficient at turning sunlight absorbed by their solar cells into electrical charge than they had hoped.

"It is already difficult in normal conditions to build an energy-efficient car that can handle rough conditions, let alone to integrate solar panels into the car as well, I haven't seen anyone do that yet,” Maarten Steinbuch, a mobility expert and Eindhoven University of Technology professor, said.

“I expect that in five to ten years electric cars will be part of our entire energy grid system. And when the home battery makes its appearance, it will even be possible to generate energy via a solar car and deliver it back to your home. Solar Team Eindhoven's innovations could change the future," he added.

For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.

Video editor • Aisling Ní Chúláin

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