Solar-powered motorhome glides into Madrid to promote sustainable energy

MADRID, Oct. 8 (Reuters) – A solar-powered RV in the shape of a giant elongated teardrop rolled silently to Madrid on Friday as part of a month-long trip from the Netherlands to southern Spain to highlight more sustainable modes of transportation.

Engineering students at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands developed the blue and white vehicle called Stella Vita – Latin for “star” and “life” – to inspire car manufacturers and politicians to accelerate the transition to green energy.

Generous solar panels on the roof and on the side wings, which unfold when the vehicle is stopped, enable the self-sufficient house on wheels, SHOW for short, to drive up to 740 km (460 miles) on a sunny day while the battery also provides electricity Fridge, coffee maker and laptop in the two-person cabin.

“When there is no sun we have a bit of a problem, of course, but we also designed the car to be charged from the mains,” said Lotte Van Dasler, a 23-year-old biomedical engineering student who spent the last year on it got to the project.

She is particularly pleased about the vehicle’s combined information and entertainment system, which provides real-time data on energy consumption and production and forces the driver to carefully weigh the compromise between different uses.

“Everyone knows what a meter looks like … but when I ask how much a kilowatt hour is, do you know?

“That creates more energy awareness … You can choose whether I want to make my breakfast or drive a few kilometers further.”

Without power steering or assisted braking, the SHOW is difficult to maneuver in tight spaces, but it can travel comfortably on the motorway at 120 kilometers per hour.

“It’s like a normal car with normal pedals and brakes,” explains Tjin Ter Horst, 21, another designer of the car. “There’s nothing special about it, other than the fact that it’s 7.2 meters long, so take that into account.”

After two weeks on the road, the group expects to reach Spain’s southernmost point of Tarifa on October 15, before heading to design shows and exhibitions across Europe by car.

Additional reporting by Michael Gore, Sergio Perez and Guillermo Martinez, editing by Andrei Khalip and Susan Fenton

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