Solar-powered ‘family car’ unveiled

London: The world’s first solar-powered car that can tote around the whole family and produce electricity as well has been developed, Dutch students claim. The solar-powered cars manufactured to date are usually built for just one person — not very useful when the need is to carry passengers.

Students from the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology unveiled ‘Stella’, the world’s first solar powered family ‘energy-positive car’ with room for four people, a trunk, intuitive steering and a range of 600km.

The solar cells of ‘Stella’ generate more electricity on average than the car uses and that means the surplus electricity can be returned to the power grid, thereby making the car ‘energy-positive’, a university statement said.

The Solar Team Eindhoven set itself the goal of developing the car of the future by combining aerodynamic design with lightweight materials like carbon and aluminium. The fuel-efficient car design also has ingenious applications like a LED strip and touch screen that make all the buttons and knobs we know today superfluous.

Intuitive driving is enabled by a steering wheel that expands or contracts when you are driving too fast or too slowly. STE will have the car officially certified for road use to prove that this really is a fully-fledged car. A multidisciplinary team with 22 students from six different departments spent a year on the project that involves challenges from the fields of energy and mobility.