Zero-emission cars have gained tremendous popularity, but the challenges of limited charging infrastructure in remote areas continue to be a hurdle. Stella Terra, an innovative khaki-green SUV, could be the answer to this problem.
Developed by a team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE), this remarkable vehicle harnesses the power of the sun through solar panels on its roof to charge its electric battery. Stella Terra’s creators are breaking new ground by offering a solution to the limitations of electric vehicles in areas lacking charging infrastructure. According to Thieme Bosman, the events manager for the team, Stella Terra is designed to serve areas “where roads are less developed and energy grids are not as reliable.”
The vehicle recently underwent rigorous testing in Morocco, covering over 1,000 kilometers from the northern coast to the Sahara Desert in the south. It proved its mettle on diverse terrains, showcasing its versatility for off-road adventures.
Stella Terra boasts a top speed of 145 kilometers (90 miles) per hour and a battery range of approximately 710 kilometers (441 miles) on roads, making it suitable for long journeys. The range is approximately 550 kilometers (342 miles) off-road, depending on the surface. Even in cloudy conditions, it can still cover significant distances.
Efficiency is at the core of Stella Terra’s design. The vehicle turned out to be one-third more efficient than expected during its Morocco trip. Its lightweight construction enhances off-road capabilities and reduces stress on the suspension. Weighing just 2,645 pounds (1,200 kilograms), Stella Terra is approximately 25% lighter than the average mid-sized SUV.
In addition to its lightweight design, the vehicle’s aerodynamic shape minimizes drag, and it incorporates lightweight and robust composite materials to reduce its weight further. Notably, the solar panels on the roof allow for a smaller battery, as the vehicle charges while driving, a remarkable innovation for solar-powered cars.
Its adaptability for extended journeys complements Stella Terra’s off-road capabilities. The car’s seats can fully recline to create a bed, catering to long-distance travel needs. When stationary, the solar panels can be extended to maximize charging and provide shade as an awning.
The vehicle’s designers have also created highly efficient solar panel converters, offering potential benefits to the broader solar industry. Stella Terra is not just a technological marvel; it’s also a practical solution for travelers looking to venture into remote areas with unpredictable charging options.
Despite encountering a steering system setback during their journey in Morocco, the Stella Terra team displayed resilience and resourcefulness by sourcing new parts and repairing the vehicle locally. The journey served as a testament to Stella Terra’s capabilities and versatility.
The team’s aspirations extend beyond creating a concept vehicle. They aim to inspire the automotive industry to rethink their designs and innovate faster. The success of Stella Terra might usher in a new era of sustainable transportation, urging major players in the market to accelerate the transition towards more eco-friendly vehicles. “It’s up to the market now, who have the resources and the power to make this change and the switch to more sustainable vehicles,” Bosman states.
Stella Terra stands as a beacon of hope for a more sustainable future in the world of off-road adventures and eco-friendly transportation.