Education Technology

Cambridge University Eco Racing introduces a new solar-powered electric vehicle


An undergraduate team of Cambridge University has collaborated using the top UK automotive companies and experts to build up and manufacture Helia, a new solar-powered electric vehicle.

Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) student's team just returned using their first international race with Helia to1, 864-mile drive from Darwin to Adelaide as part of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. CUER are actually getting excited about other potential solar races in Europe and beyond while considering some modifications to their vehicle. They also plan to visit schools to demonstrate we've got the technology behind electric vehicles and renewable energy and inspire the next generation engineers.

CUER student's team is interested in practical engineering and sustainable transport technologies. Working with the UK's leading companies and specialists, their purpose would be to design and build the UK's most efficient electric car.

This electric vehicle has automatic battery technology, efficient tyres, and aerodynamics, weighing only 550kg as a result of specialist ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre chassis and the body panels tooled by Portsmouth based Formaplex, a number one lightweight manufacturer for creating multi million pound high-powered supercars. Use of composites allowed the team to lessen weight while maintaining structural integrity in this sport car to move faster.

Helia's streamlined aerodynamic design and lightweight construction significantly enhance the overall energy efficiency, using power from high performance lithiumion battery packs manufactured in collaboration with Silverstone based Danecca and CUER student's team. The battery pack has much higher energy density than most production vehicles, which gives Helia more than double the range of a Tesla Model 3, while being a quarter of the size.

Xiaofan Zhang, CUER's Programme Director stated, \”While the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge didn't go exactly as we had hoped, it's still a significant achievement when you think back at the progress we have made over 2 yrs. The conditions this season were particularly challenging and this is the very first time this model had competed. Nevertheless, Helia's performance numbers showed her to be very competitive; it bodes extremely well for future events. Working with teams from Formaplex, Bridgestone, Danecca and our other partners was a real step-change for CUER within the overall research, design and manufacture process. It's allowed us to share expertise and improve the efficiency from the overall vehicle.\”

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