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solar-powered electric vehicle

Cambridge University Eco Racing introduces a new solar-powered electric vehicle

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To inspire the next generation of engineers

An undergraduate team of Cambridge University has collaborated with the top UK automotive companies and experts to develop and manufacture Helia, a new solar-powered electric vehicle.

Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) student’s team has just returned from their first international race with Helia to1, 864-mile drive from Darwin to Adelaide as part of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. CUER are now looking forward to other potential solar races in Europe and beyond while considering some modifications to their vehicle. They also plan to visit schools to demonstrate the technology behind electric vehicles and renewable energy and inspire the next generation engineers.

CUER student’s team is interested in practical engineering and sustainable transport technologies. Working with the UK’s leading manufacturing companies and specialists, their aim is to design and build the UK’s most efficient electric car.

To create one of the world’s most energy-efficient cars

This electric vehicle has automatic battery technology, efficient tyres, and aerodynamics, weighing only 550kg due to a specialist ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre chassis and body panels tooled by Portsmouth based Formaplex, a leading lightweight manufacturer for producing multi million pound high-powered supercars. Use of composites allowed the team to reduce weight while maintaining structural integrity in this sport car to move faster.

Helia’s streamlined aerodynamic design and lightweight construction significantly enhance the overall energy efficiency, using power from high performance lithiumion battery packs produced in collaboration with Silverstone based Danecca and CUER student’s team. The battery pack has much higher energy density than most production vehicles, which gives Helia more than double the range of a Tesla Model 3, while being a quarter of the size.

Xiaofan Zhang, CUER’s Programme Director stated, “While the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge didn’t go exactly as we had hoped, it is still a tremendous achievement when you look back at the progress we have made over two years. The conditions this year were particularly challenging and this is the first time this model had competed. Nevertheless, Helia’s performance numbers showed her to be very competitive; it bodes extremely well for future events. Working with teams from Formaplex, Bridgestone, Danecca and our other partners was a real step-change for CUER in the overall research, design and manufacture process. It’s allowed us to share expertise and improve the efficiency of the overall vehicle.”

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The Educational landscape is changing dynamically. The new generation of students thus faces the daunting task to choose an institution that would guide them towards a lucrative career.

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