Team Nuon won the Challenger class, while Solar Team Eindhoven won the Cruiser Class, carrying an averagee of 3.4 people a distance of 3,000km from Darwin to Adelaide purely on 46kWh of solar power.
The race, held every two years and celebrating its 30th anniversary, is all about energy management. Based on the original notion that a 1000W car would complete the journey in 50 hours, the solar cars are allowed a nominal 5kW hours of stored energy. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from the kinetic energy of the vehicle.
The judging took a consumer focus assessing characteristics of the cruiser vehicles such as: ease of access; comfort; controls; features; style; overall desirability; parking and storage space. A panel of judges put the cars through their paces on the finish line, testing their parking skills, 3-point turn, and their ability to pack assorted items into the car. A range of features and fit-outs caught the judges’ eye – from touch-screen connectivity, airconditioning, smart apps, vegan pineapple leather seats, to sound systems and everything in between.
A special mention was made about the US Prisum team for Australian market appeal – they included an ‘esky’ in the boot, with beer on ice. Some teams focused on interior comfort, while others had safety and road registration on their radar.
The Team Eindhoven car included an app which recommends sunny parking spaces, an upholstered spacious interior, and the ability to install a rear-facing child’s seat in the rear. Second in the practicality ranks, Bochum highlighted the feel of the doors, the sustainability of the materials used, and their four-wheel-drive feature, a first for a solar car. Brisbane-based team Arrow highlighted their intent to commercialise the vehicle, building a car suited to future road registration.
Next: Energy consumption of solar cars