Zenith: Solar-powered Car
- RMIT University
- Australian Technology Network
‘Zenith: Solar-powered Car’ is an honours design project, supported by the ATN; Australian Technology Network. The project design for entry to the World Solar Challenge: Cruiser Class in 2019
The Zenith project is the result of the combined effort from design and engineering disciplines. The project focuses on designing with data to integrate appealing aesthetics with the efficiency of vehicular travel. This is where the consideration of form, materials and energy usage weigh in the process of the design project.
Zenith project aims to push the boundary of solar-powered cars to be a production car; promoting a sustainable transportation method. As conventional solar car packaging set limitations to car exterior and interior design, the design project helps normalise solar vehicle to become more practical for everyday life.
Aesthetic appeal is one of the unique points of the Zenith as most solar cars designed based only on engineering dynamics. The solar panels would grant users freedom from range and energy anxiety. This aspect creates an opportunity for fossil-free vehicles to be available for the market.
Renewable power plants such as wind, solar, hydroelectric consist of less than 25% of power plants around the world. Meaning that even if electric cars became a mainstream method of transportation, we would face carbon emission from power plants globally.
Solar panels can provide vehicles with direct energy input from the sun. This project will help promote alternative options for end-user in the future. The design will impact people perception of solar cars as a science project to a fossil fuel-free production car.
With the push from Paris climate accord, big manufacturers like Volvo and Porsche are transitioning away from gasoline engine to electric motor. This will create more product range for consumer as the market grows.
The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge began in 1987 to push solar-powered transportation. Most of the teams consist of students from the tertiary degree to put their skills into a real-life project. Australian Technology Network will be competing at the World solar challenge in 2019, with the idea of promoting alternative energy for transportation.
Most solar cars in the world have been designed solely on engineering aspects. Zenith combines both engineering and automotive styling aspects to fulfil the efficiency requirements and appeals to the mass audience. The project also considered light-weight structures for interior.
By using extensive wind tunnel simulation to optimise the aerodynamic characteristic within the design process, the car obtained drag coefficient of 0.14 while maintaining good aesthetics to promote sustainable mobility.
1. Good air ventilation for the interior to race in the BWSC 2019.
2. Driving range up to 1,200 with an optimum solar coverage.
3. Spacious interior, fit up to 5 passengers.
4. Modular interior compartments; to reduce weight for a higher driving range.
5. In-hub motor, giving more rooms for storage on both front and rear.