Dutch solar racing team Team Eindhoven has taken out the top honours in the Cruiser Class at this year’s Bridgestone Solar Racing Challenge, edging out competitors including Australia’s Sunswift in a category that rewards innovation, efficiency and design.
After the better part of a week racing across Australia from Darwin to Adelaide in the Cruiser Class, the Dutch team was only of only three teams that crossed the line within the set timeframe, finishing with 111.7 points followed by UNSW’s Sunswift team on 56.1 and Hong Kong’s Team IVE on 44.2 points.
On Sunday, Eindhoven and the others faced a panel of experts including representatives of the likes of Tesla, Suntrix, Prohelion and other solar racing experts.
Judges award additional points to each team based on a range of factors designed to determine the practicality of each vehicle, including design innovation, environmental impact, ease of access, driver and passenger comfort, controls, features, style, and overall style and desirability to determine the final Cruiser class winners.
At the end of the judging session Eindhoven and its fourth generation solar racing vehicle Stella Era, described as “a charging station on wheels” was declared the overall winner for the class for the fourth time, gaining an additional 93.1 points under its belt.
The Lodz Solar Team from Poland was awarded an additional 82.4 points and UK’s Cambridge team 79.9 points.
Overall, Australia’s Sunswift in Violet scored second place with third place going to Hong Kong’s team IVE in Sophie 6.
‘The determinants of success in this class are a combination of speed, endurance, and energy inputs before a subjective judging element. What is a practical car?” Event director Chris Selwood said.
“We look at ease of access, controls and instrumentation, features and benefits, style and aesthetics, and we expose these young engineers to that most intangible quality demanded of designers – desirability,” Selwood said.
“The criteria for determining success in this class is complex. Eindhoven continues to innovate. Their goal, to bring solar electric cars to the everyday driver is to be commended.”
The 2019 Bridgestone Solar Racing was a difficult race for many teams pitted against a combination of strong winds and searing heat.
Veteran team Vattenfall suffered a terrible blow when its car unexpectedly burst into flames destroying the vehicle in front of the eyes of team members.
Sonnenwagen, which battled heavy winds resulting in a crash on Wednesday forcing it out of the race along with then-leader Solar Team Twente, was recognised for its safety protocols.
“I am told the decisions were very difficult this year as a number of teams presented very well however this year’s winner impressed the judges from the outset,” said Selwood at the award event.
“The way the manner in which they conducted their roadside repairs was a textbook example of the way things should be done.”
Winner of the speed-focussed Challenger Class was Belgium’s Agoria Team.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.