world's first electricity producing solar powered family car world's first electricity producing solar powered family car
jul 05, 2013

world's first electricity producing solar powered family car

world’s first electricity producing solar-powered family car
all images © bart van overbeeke



presented by the solar team eindhoven (STE) of TU/e as the world’s first solar-powered family car, ‘stella’, the ‘energy positive’ vehicle provides accommodation for four people, fully accessible trunk space, an intuitive steering system, and has a range of 600 kilometers. equipped with photo-voltaic panels, the roof-mounted solar cells can generate more electricity on average than it consumes, meaning that with the surplus of electricity it produces, the excess can be returned to the power grid. by combining aerodynamic design with lightweight materials like carbon and aluminum, the concept boasts a stream-lined silhouette for an extremely fuel-efficient ride. in addition, the ‘stella’ features LED strip applications and touchscreen display that transforms all existing superfluous buttons and knobs for an interactive cockpit experience. intuitive driving is enabled with an expanding and contracting steering wheel that warns the user if they are driving too fast or too slow.


the ‘stella’ will participate in the cruiser class for the world solar challenge 2013, a 3,000 km long race across the australian outback from october 6 – 13 2013, that will place emphasis on the practical and user-friendly application to solar cars rather than on speed.



first ride with ‘stella’ – the world’s first solar powered family car
video courtesy hans huis in t veld



the ‘energy positive’ vehicle provides room for four people, fully accessible trunk space, and has a range of 600 km



equipped with photo-voltaic panels, the roof-mounted solar cells can generate more electricity on average than it consumes



in regards to the surplus of electricity it produces, the excess generation can be returned to the power grid



the concept boasts a stream-lined silhouette for an extremely fuel-efficient ride



‘stella’ combines aerodynamic design with lightweight materials like carbon and aluminum



LED strip applications and touchscreen display transforms all existing superfluous buttons and knobs for an interactive cockpit



the solar team eindhoven (STE) of TU/e



  • OK. will someone explain why, if it generates more electricity than it uses, it has a range of 600 km?

    JD says:
  • I’d rather eat a bowl of rusted nails and glass filings before I drive a slow ridiculous looking car.No jokes. Can we really as a race not design a practical fuel\energy efficient vehicle that doesn’t resemble a iron board?

    Shikkai says:
  • I agree it isn’t the greatest looking vehicle, but I (as a Nederlander) am proud to see this accomplishment. It shows that good progress is being made. However, when I presented this to my American friends, they scoffed at it. I guess if it doesn’t have a 6-liter engine, an 8-foot bed, or it doesn’t makes you look cool, then it won’t stand a chance. Maybe their tune would change if they too paid eight bucks a gallon.

    ray says:
  • For which kind of family?
    Would be, by chance, a family of contortionists from Cirque du Soleil?

    Sérgio Werneck de Figueiredo says:
  • it’s fantastic
    what a great first showing too bad more people have neither the insight or foresight to understand this phase of this teams’ accomplishments
    I thank them for their dedication, enthusiasm and intelligence
    and my hat is off to them for ability to manifest solutions
    I wish them well on their lives’ paths and hope they keep their vision intact in spite of people that contribute nothing but criticism
    just remember the rest of us are out here as well cheering you on!

    aquadzyn says:
  • I think its cool cool car, obviously they have the insight to design something that is unique and futuristic. Would you like every car to look the same as the majority of them do Its 2013 not 1913. Would you prefer a more vintage design, get with the times its energy efficient. That’s why the driver is so relaxed he doesn’t have to pay for oil and pollute the planet.

    Greg Beckford

    Greg Beckford says:
  • I’d love to see an answer to JD’s question above: why the range limit? I don’t think designboom is in the business of explanation, though, so we’ll have to search the web for this one.

    Mac McDougal says:
  • It has to solve all the practical problems first, then the “looks” can be addressed. It looks fairly comfortable to me. Sheesh folks – how many cars have *you* designed and built?

    Here’s mine:

    It is not got solar panels on the car (except maybe to power some accessories) but it certainly can run on energy from solar panels on my house. It will carry 5 people.


    NeilBlanchard says:
  • Why is something like this not on the market yet???? I would buy in an instant. And so would many others. Such a positiv and surprisngly good looking project.

    oi says:
  • @ray: agree, fule consumption must be regarded. But i agree with @Shikkai that the design of the vehicle is horrible. This TU/e has a design faculty, is it not? Or at least the Eindhoven Design Academy. Functional design is good, but i’ll eat my hat that this thing would’ve looked like this when a proper designer had some interference with this thing. BTW i’m a proud dutchman too.

    tulipwoodracer says:
  • wow such negativity… considering that a car that is powered by PV cells, needs to have a flat area to put the solar collectors on, a flat roof is the most elegant and simple solution. As designers we do need to concider the natural characteristic of what we are designing, so yes it is flat…. yes I am sure there are some things that make this not so practical, but compare it to the solar cars that were being built 5 years ago…. it is the model of comfort and usability. It does not say how fast it can go? would be curious to know.

    morgan says:
  • JD, I would suggest that when the sun goes down the car may shortly have to stop, so perhaps the 600 km is related to this.

    morgan says:
  • Looks being set aside, what about the safety aspect? How crash worthy would a vehicle like this be? That’s the exact reason I refuse to drive a smart car or any other tiny vehicle like that. There are a LOT of idiots on the road and let’s face it folks, many people who are licensed to drive shouldn’t be. This car looks like if it were to hit a cat, it would come out on the losing end.

    robert says:
  • Great guys, I am proud that “my” university came up with this. All negative remarks in the reactions are really ridiculous or just cosmetic and sure the one about how the range of 600 km is related to the energy plus status of the vehicle. Never heard solar energy is only available during the day.
    I see this as a real solution to a better future. Very well done.

    Ton Donders says:
  • Woof! Does the car come with some of those HOT Dutch guys who are hovering over it? If any of them are gay, single, and come as an accessory on the car, sign me up for one! (Oh, yeah, and I like the car, too.)

    James says:
  • Great idea. I don’t care if it doesn’t look great. Cars shouldn’t have to make you look ‘awesome’ when driving. To those that go on looks, get a life! I couldn’t care less about the look, I would buy it now if it was well priced and had very decent safety in the event of a crash. I’m sure the safety features will improve in the next few years. As for speed, sure, it could be an issue, but over all my trips in with in 20 min of where I live and work, so it may just take 22min. Practically free to run, low noise, very low emissions, this is sounding like a dream to me!

    Kirk says:

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