A team of students from the Netherlands has redefined van life and is on their way to Portugal. Just don’t refer to their revolutionary new solar-powered vehicle as a campervan. “We term it a self-sustaining home on wheels,” Lotte van Dasler, a member of a team from Eindhoven’s Technical University, explained. “In terms of energy, we are self-sufficient. We aren’t a camper, but we are. As a result, I believe we will create something fresh. A new idea, a new concept, and a new future—a future that is sustainable.” The elegant, odd-looking mobile home was put through its paces at a Renault facility south of Paris.
Stella Vita, a vehicle with rooftop solar panels, generates enough energy to travel and stay off the grid. Its on-board information platform displays you just how much energy you consume while you cook, shower, or watch TV. Tijn ter Horst, a team member, said, “I think that is pretty amazing since if you are conscious of your energy use, you can make smarter choices to utilize less energy.”
On a sunny day, the student team claims it can travel 730 kilometers at a maximum speed of 120 kilometers for every hour (75 mph). It can also drive 600 kilometers at night because of its 60-kilowatt-hour battery.
When parked and unfurled, it has 17.5 square meters of solar panels, which is nearly as much as a typical home’s roof can hold. They’re going 3,000 kilometers to Tarifa, Spain’s most southerly city, to show it off.
With drive train issues, the exploratory car trip got off to a rocky start. The Stella Vita was transported on a trailer from Eindhoven to Brussels and then from Brussels to Paris. “We really want to make kilometers to ensure that these tiny problems don’t come back again,” project manager Laura Van Houtum stated during the test drive outside Paris on Friday. However, its designers are confident that their mobile home is a portion of a broader plan to combat climate change by utilizing renewable energy sources. “We want to highlight that the future we imagine is ten years away is already here,” Van Dasler remarked.
The Dutch central government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (such as carbon dioxide (CO2)) to nil by 2050. By 2023, it aims to make 16 percent of the energy utilized in the Netherlands renewable. The Energy Agenda establishes goals for the years leading up to 2050.