It may look big and cumbersome, but this very cool solar-powered campervan is remarkably efficient, being able to travel a claimed 373 miles (600 km) on one charge of its surprisingly small 60 kWh battery pack. Stella Vita is what the team of 22 engineering students from Eindhoven named this one-off, the name hinting that it gets its life from the sun.
Back in October of 2021, they actually wanted to drive this vehicle from their home town all the way to the south of Spain. The journey was going to be around 1,860 miles (3,000 km) long, but after having some technical issues with the vehicles (transporting it on a truck for a third of the way), they eventually got it working and it still completed around 1,240 miles (2,000 km) of the trip under its own power.
They planned to try not to charge at all at any point during the test. However, they still had to plug the vehicle in twice because bad weather didn’t allow the vehicle to take advantage of all its solar panels.
Photovoltaic cells cover the entire (very flat) roof of the vehicle, and there are also additional panels that pop out of the sides, further expanding its ray catching array - with the side panels in place, it grows from 95 square-foot to 8.8 square metres to 17.5 square metres. According to its makers, in ideal (sunny) conditions, it can produce up to 4 kW of power and that this will put around 20 kW back into the battery over the course of one day.
This in turn translates into around extra daily 124 miles (200 km), calculated for driving at a speed of 75 mph (120 km/h).
Stella Vita was conceived as a two-passenger vehicle, with a pop-up top and amenities in the rear like a sink, fridge, bed and storage. The university in Eindhoven has been making solar vehicles since 2013 and it has been building what it calls solar-powered family cars at a rate of one every two years, and this campervan is a departure form the usual formula - members of the same team are also behind the Lightyear One.
There is no plan to make it in its current form and Solar Team Eindhoven have not been approached by any major manufacturers looking to pay for their expertise. However, it’s still an exceptionally cool and interesting project and the look provided by the Fully Charged Show in its most recent video is the best one we’ve had so far at Stella Vita.