Stella, a solar electric car developed by students in the Netherlands, is the first energy positive car and can travel 500 miles on a single charge.
It looks like a wedge, and can travel 500 miles with its batteries charged and can go even farther on a sunny day. That’s double the range of the Tesla Model S. Meet Stella, a solar electric car developed by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.Solar technology has come a long way in the last few years. Solar panels have improved their efficiency and Stella uses Sunpower panels that have almost 22% efficiency, compared with the 11 to 15% efficiency that are commonplace today. When you combine this with the increased efficiencies in the lighter materials used in the car, such as carbon fiber, you have an amazing car weighing in at just 855 pounds that can define the next generation of green automobiles.What makes this car special? Besides being a street legal family car, it’s the first energy positive car. What does that mean? It means that the rooftop solar panels generate 1.5K of power, which is more than the car needs for moving and charging its Panasonic Lithium-ion batteries. It’s also showcasing technologies that allow it to communicate with other cars, traffic signals and even stop signs.Now, why didn’t GM invent this car? It’s definitely not for lack of resources. Working on this type of project requires the single-mindedness and futuristic thinking often found in students and small organizations that don’t have layer upon layer of management to report to. Cultures where CYA is not the norm and where it’s ok to make mistakes.The car won the 2013 World Solar Challenge in Australia and has had a very successful tour in California driving from LA to San Francisco.You can watch my recent commentary on Univision’s national evening newscast talking about this breakthrough and the hope that cars using this same technology can actually transit the streets within the next 5 to 10 years.