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Dutch project car makes more energy than it uses

Stella Lux 4-seat solar car could revolutionize auto and energy sectors

Published: February 12, 2017, 9:30 PM
Updated: February 17, 2017, 4:56 AM

Stella Lux (photo: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke)

Stella Lux (photo: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke)

The automotive world is slowly getting used to electrical cars, thus lightening the demand on fossil fuels and helping to keep transportation sustainable. But what if you could not just save energy to run your next car, but actually make energy to satisfy household needs?

Introducing Stella Lux, a car that is so efficient, it generates more energy than it consumes. It is a student team project car from the Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands and it’s gearing up for a run at the record books in the 2017 World Solar Challenge in Australia in the fall (their spring).

Stella Lux (photo: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke)

First and foremost, Stella Lux is a solar power car whose predecessor (Stella) has competed in several solar races around the globe, including winning its class in the 3,022-km 2013 World Solar Challenge in Australia.

Secondly, it’s made of lightweight materials such as carbonfibre and aluminum, to aid in getting farther on its energy stores. And finally, it’s aerodynamically sound to help it waste as little energy as possible cutting through the wind.

Stella Lux interior (photo: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke)

It’s also connected to take advantage of intelligent navigation features. The Solar Navigator collects weather data and offers route suggestions to take maximize solar exposure, while car-to-infrastructure and car-to-car communications allows the navigation system to optimize route for efficiency and automatically compensate for other road users, such as service vehicles — for example, it automatically turns down the audio system when an ambulance is approaching. Plus, mobile connectivity allows it to keep the driver on schedule for appointments.

The tight interior has room for four, opening up the doors through smartphone proximity sensing. The seats are minimalist and lightweight, and feature lightweight cushions for comfort. Programmable moodlighting adds ambience, and a trunk will hold whatever passengers need to take along.

Stella Lux (photo: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke)

Dimensionally speaking, the Stella Lux is 4,521 mm long by 1,753 wide, which gives it a footprint roughly equivalent to a Honda Civic coupe, so it will fit easily into today's tight shopping mall parking spots. However, its 1,118-mm height makes it shorter than a Mazda MX-5.

Its 15-kWh battery stores enough energy to give it a range of about 650 km, at night or when the sun isn’t shining. When it is, range expands to about 1,000 km. And depending on load, it can reach speeds of about 125 km/h, so it’s able to keep up to speed on the highway. Under the right conditions, you could theoretically make the highway round-trip between Montreal and Toronto (boundary to boundary) on a sunny day without having to recharge the batteries.

Although Stella Lux is simply a project car, it does provide some deep consideration for the future of not just motoring, but also energy use.