Zero-emission cars are soaring in popularity but running an electric vehicle is next to impossible in places with limited charging infrastructure.
Stella Terra could change that.
The khaki-green SUV uses solar panels on its sloping roof to charge its electric battery, meaning it can drive long distances powered entirely by the sun.
Built by a team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE), “the world’s first off-road solar-powered vehicle” could help connect remote areas “where roads are less developed and energy grids are not as reliable,” and assist with emergency aid and deliveries, says Thieme Bosman, events manager for the team.
The team tested the vehicle in Morocco earlier this month, driving more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) between the country’s northern coast and the Sahara Desert in the south.
“Morocco has a huge variety of landscapes and different surfaces in quite a short distance,” says Bosman, adding that the car was tested “on every type of surface that a car like this could encounter.”
The road-legal car has a top speed of 145 kilometers (90 miles) per hour. On a sunny day, its battery range is around 710 kilometers (441 miles) on roads, and around 550 kilometers (342 miles) off-road, depending on the surface. In cloudy conditions, the team estimates the range could be 50 kilometers less.
Bosman noted that the vehicle had proved to be one-third more efficient than expected on the trip, and that its lightweight design made it less liable to get stuck on rugged terrain, and put less stress on its suspension.