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Success by Design - Best of luck to Stella Lux

Oct 21, 2015 10:44:00 AM. By: High Tech Campus

Discussions about air quality and zero emissions are never out of the headlines. Legacy car manufacturers are clearly struggling to make their cars meet increasingly stricter norms. In Eindhoven, pioneering work is going on to design the world’s first energy positive family car. And records are already being broken.

Update: On Sunday October 25th, Stella Lux was declared the winner in the Cruiser Class. More details here

The race across a continent

While more than 260,000 people are expected to visit Eindhoven for Dutch design week, a team of engineering students from Eindhoven University of Technology are taking part in the World Solar Challenge. They’re driving 3022 km across Australia, powered entirely by solar energy. They are posting daily video reports on their progress for the many supporters back home and around the world.

Solar Team Eindhoven is leading a new cluster of student-driven automotive companies, building an ecosystem to provide affordable, sustainable personal mobility for everyone. They are getting significant technical support and advice from campus resident NXP. Lead Interaction designer Martijn Lammers has designed the Stella Lux dashboard. He explains more about their design thinking.

“Stella Lux, is the second in the series for STE. 25 students have taken a year off from their engineering studies to design and build the vehicle, but also learn what it’s like to build a startup company. The race in Australia is important, but this time the plan is to take the design a lot further after the race. The dream is that the car will go into production.”

“Our first vehicle in 2013 was really an experiment on wheels. We wanted to demonstrate that a family solar car could carry 4 persons across some challenging terrain –and come out the best in class. The previous team achieved those goals. But the interior design ideas were bolted on as an afterthought. At the time, we just wanted to win the race.”

“Now the goal has been to design a solar family car that people really want to own. The organisers in Australia changed the rules to reflect this. Which explains why the process this time has been to integrate fresh, innovative ideas into the design of Stella Lux. That means working WITH drivers rather than FOR them, using the lean startup methodology.”

“Safety and comfort are extremely important for everyone, however short the journey. We want to make sure the driver never has to take their eyes off the road. So we have designed three modes of interaction”.

Interaction before and during the journey

  1. Stella Lux is connected to the Internet through the mobile phone network. And it’s securely linked with NXP technology to a dedicated app on the driver’s smart phone. The app receives real time data from the car, helping you plan the journey. It shows you the range of the car right now, based on the current battery charge level. The app helps plan your route, or find a parking space. But it’s also an electronic key, so Stella knows then it’s owner approaches and unlocks the doors.

  2. The steering wheel is used for all the information and controls that are essential to the journey. This is the need to have information. Of course, it is for steering the vehicle, but it also controls the blinkers, the lights, and all the essential controls needed for a safe journey. An integrated heads-up display shows the most relevant information such as speed, remaining range, and real-time directions.

  3. The centre console has the nice to know info, where you can set your favourite music. Once the car is in motion, the driver cycles through the options by touch alone complete with haptic feedback.

Unlike most cars, Stella-Lux offers identical seating comfort for all passengers. Apart from spacious leg room, smartphones can be recharged on the wireless charging pad. It’s the attention to detail which makes the Stella-Lux driving experience very special.

Stella Lux team Technical University Eindhoven

Extraordinary range

Stella Lux produces more energy than she consumes in every month of the year. On average, Dutch citizens drive 37 kms a day. Even in the Netherlands, not known for its sunny weather, the solar cells on Stella Lux produce more than enough energy. In mid-winter the car still has range of 40 km a day, rising to 310 km a day in the summer. And if you leave Stella Lux stationary for a few days you can charge the battery to its maximum capacity. That’s 1000 km of safe, totally emission-free driving. In the last few days, Stella Lux has broken records, being the first car to drive 1500 km on a single charge.

Placing the motors directly in the wheels means no transmission or gearbox is needed. This results in an energy efficiency of 96% in the motors. And when Stella Lux brakes, the motors recharge the batteries.

Being energy positive means that Solar Team Eindhoven can introduce new concepts like wireless discharging. Use Stella’s surplus energy to lower your total energy consumption at home. Stella-Lux in the driveway can cut the costs of running lights, TV’s and tablets, in fact anything that’s switched in. And while the car is parked at places like the High Tech Campus, it could be contributing to lowering the bills back home!

We congratulate all those involved in the success of Stella Lux in the 2015 World Solar Challenge

High Tech Campus
High Tech Campus


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