Solar-Powered RV Travels from Netherlands to Spain

A solar-powered electric camper van has completed a 1,242-mile journey from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands to Tarifa, a town at the southernmost tip of Spain, without stopping for fuel or plugging in to charge.

(In other words, it crossed four countries, including two of Europe’s largest, in about the distance it takes to get from New York City to Miami — just in case you needed a reminder of how stupidly huge the United States is).

Related: How to improve your mileage with an RV

Dubbed “Stella Vita,” this recreational vehicle was created by 22 students at the Eindhoven University of Technology, and features more than just a solar-powered electric drivetrain. It also has everything two people need to live on the go, including a bathroom, shower, sink, toilet, sofa, kitchen area, and a double bed.

The original journey was meant to be 1,860 miles long (to return to the above comparison, that would be NYC to San Antonio), but technical issues at the start meant it had to towed for the first third of the trip so that it could arrive in time for a few showcase appointments.

Stella Vita, doors open, with two occupants
Photo: Bart van Overbeeke via Solar Team Eindhoven

On the roof, Stella Vita has 94.7 square feet of solar panels that charge a 60-kWh battery pack as the van drives. When parked, the panels extend outward to 188 square feet. The pack provides up to 373 miles of range while also powering onboard appliances like a TV, laptop, and coffee machine. On a sunny day, the solar cells can add another 81 miles of range. During the trip, the team drove about 186 miles per day at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.

Tijn Ter Horst, a 21-year-old member of the team, says Stella Vita was made to show people and companies what’s already possible. “It creates energy awareness,” he added. “You can see how much energy is coming in from the sun, how much energy is in your battery and then it tells you — for example, if you want to make pancakes — how much energy it costs to make pancakes.”

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