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Charging For the Future

Charging For the Future

15 Oct 2019

Charging For the Future

The Cruiser Class of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is so much more than a type of solar car.

With fuel-powered vehicles an increasing burden on the environment, around the world scientists, engineers and environmentalists are looking to alternative means of transport that have a reduced impact on the environment.

Electric vehicles and hybrids are increasingly common, but we are well on our way to solar-powered vehicles as well.

The Cruiser Class was founded on the basis that teams could design and build cars that had potential as every day vehicles, rather than the one-man, smaller vehicles of the Challenger Class that are built for speed, as opposed to practicality.

Already we're seen significant advances as a result of the Cruiser Class. Lex Hoefsloot and a group of Solar Team Eindhoven Alumni entered and won the inaugural Cruiser Class in 2013, and the same team went on to win in 2015, and 2017 also.

Lex has since gone on to co-found Lightyear, a company that has built and just this year released Lightyear.One; a solar powered electric vehicle.

In 2019, the Cruiser Class continues to be part of research and advances in renewable energy based vehicles. For the first time, part of the event regulations for the Cruiser Class involves the cars travelling on single charges from Darwin to Tennant Creek, Tennant Creek to Coober Pedy, and Coober Pedy to the finish in Adelaide.

This is part of a live experiment with the CSIRO, who are facilitating the charging this year to study the effects of multiple cars plugging into the grid to charge. One day, this could be a reality en masse for the population.

Yesterday the leading Cruiser Class teams arrived in Tennant Creek for their charge, with competitive teams Solar Team Eindhoven, Solarcar-Team Hochschule Bochum, Sunswift, IVE Engineering Solar Car Team and University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project still in contention.

Other teams, who had trailered to arrive at the stop, also plugged in; ATN Solar Car Team, Cambridge University and CalSol.

Dr John Ward is the Assistant Chief Scrutineer for the 2019 BWSC, as part of the Scientific Faculty. John is also the Principal Scientist for Grids and Energy Efficient Systems for the CSIRO, facilitating the Cruiser Class charging this year.

Speaking to John today, the reports are all positive from the first overnight stop and charge for the Cruiser Class.

"This is the first time we've had the grid interactive charging, which is the intersection of transport and the electricity sector. The facilities and support from Territory Generation in getting the site and infrastructure together was brilliant".

The charging was also an opportunity to gather data and information on how much electricity the cars were taking on board, resulting in better efficiency information on the progress of the Cruiser Class.

From Tennant Creek, the Cruiser Class cars have set off to their next overnight stop tomorrow night in Coober Pedy, over the border in South Australia. For the Cruisers, it's not a race - it's a test of effiency. 

The teams must get to Coober Pedy effectively with the charge they currently have, as well as maximising the number of passengers in their vehicle, which will influence their score. However, with an additional 200km until their next charge, this leg is certainly going to be more challenging.

On a light note, the overnight stop - a new feature of the BWSC - has been a positive opportunity for the Cruiser Class teams to take some time to interact with their fellow competitors. A battery officer and team manager from each team remained with their cars as they plugged in to charge, giving them an opportunity to spend some time together socially. However, we here the teams kept their strategy cards close to their chest!

Once the teams pass through their second overnight stop in Coober Pedy, and then cross the City of Adelaide finish line, their minds will turn to the all important Cruiser Class judging. 

The judging of the Cruiser Class cars will influence the winners of the Class in 2019 - it's not just who arrives to Adelaide first.

An esteemed panel of judges will hear a 3 minute presentation from each team about their car this Saturday in the Cruiser Pavilion. The judges will then score each vehicle on elements such as design innovation, environmental impact, ease of access and egress, occupant space and comfort, ease of operation (driving and charging), versatility, style and desirability.

Overall, they are determining cars that are not only effiient in their energy consumption, but are attractive fr the every day person to buy and drive.

This year's panel of judges includes some notable BWSC Alumni, as well as some great leaders in the Solar Challenge Community and Renewable Energy Sector, including;

  • Ms Gale Lueck - Event Director & Operations Director American Solar Challenge (USA)
  • Mr Lex Hoefsloot - CEO & Co-Founder Lightyear (Netherlands)
  • Ms Sally Hunt - Event Manager, Carrera Solar Atacama (Chile)
  • Mr Rob Walker - Organiser, SASOL Solar Challenge (South Africa)
  • Mr Cameron Tuesley - Prohelian
  • Ms Coco Wong - Tesla
  • Mr Jay Manley - Tesla
  • Mr Danny Kennedy - Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund and CEO, New Energy Nexus
  • Ms Jenny Paradiso - Managing Director, Suntrix

Participants and Public are encouraged to come along to see the Cruiser Class judging this Saturday 19 October from 9am - 1pm. Who knows, one of the cars you see may be in your garage in just a few years time!

The Cruisers are on their way to their next charge, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of their progress in the 2019 BWSC.

Find out more about the Cruiser Class Judging, and the City of Adelaide Finish Line here.

Header image via SolarCar-Team Hochschule Bochum