World’s First Solar-Powered SUV Completes 620-Mile Test Drive Without Charging

Stopping to refill the tank or charge up on a long road trip is a constant and inevitable frustration, but engineering students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands might have done away with those stops for good. Their 2-seater vehicle, Stella Terra, has just completed a 620-mile test drive across Morocco and the Sahara Desert without stopping once to charge. It’s described as the world’s first off-road solar-powered SUV. Road-legal with a top speed of 90mph, the Stella Terra has a range of 440 miles on a sunny day. Relying only on the car’s built-in solar panels, the vehicle crossed from Morocco’s north coast, through the off-road trails of the Rif mountains, and into the sandy dunes of the Sahara. To ensure that the car would run on the power of the sun alone, the engineers had to make the chassis as light as possible, which turned out to be a big advantage when it came to off-roading. The only issue occurred when the steering system failed, but it was easily repaired roadside and the team was able to complete the journey. On less sunny days, the vehicle relies on a built-in lithium-ion battery for short distances and can be charged via conventional charging stations.