A remarkable new vehicle has given grey nomads a glimpse into what could be the future of the Big Lap.
A team of Dutch students has designed – and road tested – what is believed to be the world’s first solar electric campervan.
The ‘Stella Vita’ has solar panels on the roof that can be expanded into a sun cover when parked. The van can also be charged through electric charging ports.
When stationary, the extendable roof can rise up to allow passengers to stand, and extra solar panels slide out from the sides, doubling the solar surface from 8.8 square metres to 17.5 square metres.
The solar panels apparently take two to three days to fully charge the 60kWh battery … a perfect timeframe for not-in-a-hurry grey nomads!
The Stella Vita can typically travel up to 600 kilometres on one battery charge, even at night and when it is cloudy. On a day when the sun is shining throughout, the vehicle’s range increases by an extra 130 kilometres.
On a 2,000km test drive from their university in Eindhoven to Tarifa, a city on the southern tip of Spain, the team drove approximately 300 kilometres between each destination at a top speed of 120km/h.
The Stella Vita is designed for two passengers and has a kitchen, sitting area, bed, shower and toilet. As well as allowing fuel-free travel, the solar energy can apparently power all the inside amenities including a TV and a laptop.
Travellers can track their energy consumption using a built-in panel which allows them to see how much energy is coming in from the sun, how much energy is in their battery, and how much energy they are using doing such tasks as cooking a meal.
“The technology is there, we just have to change the way we think,” said one of the students, Tijn ter Horst. “If 22 students can design and build a vehicle like this in one year, then I’m sure companies could as well.”