by Fred Lambert
September 13, 2021
A new electric solar car project with a living extension and expandable solar panels is giving us a glimpse into what the future might hold for RV/van life. Solar Team Eindhoven, a group of engineering students from the Technical University of Eindhoven (Netherlands), is probably the most famous team that has competed in the World Solar Challenge, a competition to create super-efficient solar cars.
The people behind Lightyear came up from that team, and now they are trying to use the knowledge acquired through the creation of the original Stella and Stella Lux solar cars to bring to market a road-legal solar car. Now the latest Solar Team Eindhoven has unveiled a new project called “Stella Vita”:
Stella Vita is a Self-sustaining House On Wheels. This means that the mobile house is self-sufficient in terms of energy. Through solar panels on the roof, it is independent of charging stations. The vehicle generates enough solar energy to drive, shower, watch TV, charge your laptop, and make coffee.
Like the previous Stella vehicles, there’s a focus on efficiency and solar integration, but the new version is also a deployable mobile home. When stationary, the roof can be raised to create an extension and deployable solar panels come out the sides.
The bigger surface enables for more solar power to charge the vehicle and power some appliances: The solar house on wheels has a roof that slides up when stationary. This makes it easy to stand inside to cook, sleep or work. In addition, extra solar panels fold out when the roof is raised, doubling the solar surface to as much as 17.5 square metres. For daily use, a comfortable interior has been designed that is as light and efficient as possible. By using energy efficiently, Stella Vita can travel up to 730 km on a sunny day.
The team plans to take the prototype Stella Vita on a monthlong road trip from Eindhoven to the southernmost tip of Spain while only using energy from the sun.
Electrek’s Take Now obviously, like the previous student solar cars, the vehicle is not equipped with all the necessary safety features to be road legal. But it’s still an interesting testbed for some technology that I could see become common in electric vehicles used for traveling and living, like electric RVs and vans – the main one being the expandable solar system.