30 Years of SEV Development
In June, we were very fortunate to meet some of the very first solar electric vehicle pioneers, the Sunrider Team.
Sunrider, a vehicle conceived and realised at Cardiff University, was the first SEV to cross Europe (from Athens to Lisbon) back in 1986. This year, to celebrate their 30th Anniversary of the incredible feat, the team displayed Sunrider at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea and it was a privilege for us to be asked to showcase Evolution alongside.
Despite the vast difference in performance of the two vehicles, the apparent similarities at a glance are considerable, leading many to believe that they had been born out of the same design concept. The cars beautifully demonstrated how far SEV technology has come in 30 years; taking two cars produced at the forefront of technology at their time and drawing direct comparisons. For example, Sunrider has a top speed of about 20 mph compared to Evolution's top speed of about 70mph. Another noticeable aspect was the greater weight of Evolution due to the increase in safety measures and extra systems to improve vehicle efficiency; we all agreed that a drive in Sunrider would be a more risky activity and likely not allowed on any public roads in this day and age.
Sunrider (front) and Evolution (behind) at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea for the Swansea Transport Festival
It was great to meet the team behind the vehicle and hear their stories, which reflected the solar-racing spirit which we experience and cherish today. From on-the-road repairs to the drive to prove your idea and capabilities despite others' doubt, the team spirit was recognisable to us all. The public engaged well and offered many insightful comparisons between the vehicles along with the usual out-of-the-box ideas for improvements which always fuel discussions.
Although the idea of a mini solar challenge was cut down by the lack of working systems in Sunrider, we had a great weekend and learnt a lot from our discussions with both the Sunrider team and general public.