The automobile industry continues to warm up to the electric and solar-powered car segments. Until a few decades ago, this is something we probably never thought would make it into the real world. From 1955, solar-powered cars had made a huge mark in the industry, and bythe late 20th century, they were set to become the next big thing.
Companies such as Atlis Motor Vehicles and Aptera Motors, among other well-established brands, are making battery-powered vehicles integrated with sophisticated solar panels but with the capabilities of an ordinary gas-powered car, if not more. As far as we know, solar-powered cars have a lot of potential, and may soon dominate the industry with their use of renewable and inexpensive energy.
Students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have designed and built a solar-powered camper van. This 22-student invention has the interior of a motorhome and a driving range of more than 430 miles. The Stella Vita – as the students call it – has already earned itself the insignia as the world’s first solar-powered camper van. The model gets its energy from large solar panels, which have been integrated into the lifting roof. The inside looks like a pimped-up version of a full-size RV, with enough room to sleep, cook, and work.
On September 19, the camper van was driven on a 1,242-mile trip from Eindhoven University to the southern tip of Spain at a town called Tarifa. The Stella Vita camper van completed the journey without stopping to charge.
The Stella Vita Camper Van has a 450+ mile driving range and comes with 57.4 square meters of solar panels. Here’s all you should know about the world’s first solar-powered camper van.
The Stella Vita Has An Eye-Catching Appearance
Via: Solar Team Eindhoven
The Camper Van is all kinds of beautiful. Its front features a wide windshield that extends to become part of the roof. Its futuristic headlights also move to its sides. The van hangs low and has large wheels. The rear of the camper van has passenger-side suicide doors that can open to about 90 degrees for maximum access.
The most interesting part of the van is the roof, which is can be protracted up to provide more room in the cabin. The roof has been fitted with two other solar panels that are only accessible when it’s extended. Its main solar panel occupies a surface area of 17.5 square meters. Once extruded, the side solar panels can be folded out to provide a surface area of about 57.4 square meters worth of solar panel surface that traps in a great deal of energy.
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The Stella Vita Is Self Sufficient
Via: Solar Team Eindhoven
The Stella Vita has a massive interior that’s big enough to house two adult passengers. The space has everything you would need in a practical camper vehicle: a shower, a double bed, a bathroom, sofa, sink, toilet, and a kitchen area.
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The Camper Van Has A Long Driving Range
Electric cars, which have been in production since the late 1800s, and solar-powered cars have one important element in common: They both run on rechargeable batteries. The obvious difference is in the way they receive their energy.
The Stella Vita’s massive solar panels charge a 60-kWh battery pack. According to robbreport.com, it can take anywhere from 2 to 3 days for the camper van to achieve a full charge. While it’s typical for solar-powered cars to keep going – since they receive continuous energy – but it’s better to take the Stella Vita on trips that will consist of scheduled stops, allowing the solar panels to add more power to the battery pack.
According to the Solar Team Eindhoven team, the solar setup on the Stella Vita can make enough kilowatts to drive you as far as 453 miles on a normal sunny day. The driving range is also heavily dependent on the appliance usage. The team says the van is capable of producing 60-70% of the energy on a cloudy day. Thanks to the massive power storage, you should be able to drive the camper van during evening hours and in the absence of direct sunlight.
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The Future Of Solar-Powered Vehicle Technology
With its capabilities, there’s a possibility that the Stella Vita may become a mass-produced camper van. Currently, there are many other solar-powered cars in the market. Hyundai recently made a hybrid version of the Sonata, which comes with an integrated solar system that can charge 30-60% of the battery pack in a single day.
And with many others on the horizon, there is so much to look forward to. The market is will soon welcome a three-wheeled solar vehicle created by Aptera Motors. We’re also looking forward to the Lightyear One – a model that will be launched in the Netherlands later this year.