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Press release

19th August 2019
Cambridge University students unveil the UK’s Most Efficient Electric Car

Cambridge – UK, August 19th 2019

A team of 20 undergraduate students from Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) have unveiled a 4-seat solar powered electric car at the London Science Museum.

The team have created the vehicle as an exciting demonstration of current electric vehicle and renewable energy technology with the aim of inspiring the next generation of engineers and STEM students.

Over the last two years, the team of young engineers from CUER, a student society at the University, have collaborated with the top automotive companies and experts in the UK to develop and manufacture their new vehicle, “Helia”.

Xiaofan Zhang the team’s Programme Director commented: “CUER was founded in 2008 and built Affinity, a very large single seat road legal solar car that drove from Lands’ End to John O’Groats.

Now, just 10 years later it’s incredible to see how Electric Vehicle technology has developed so far in such a short space of time. These innovations have allowed us to build a four seat car that is much faster, more efficient and practical.”

As a result of these cutting-edge collaborations the team vehicle boasts some impressive figures including: 

  • Being able to drive with four occupants at 80kph (50mph) using just the power of a kettle.
  • Having a single-charge range of over 900km even without using the solar cells, an equivalent of a London to Edinburgh trip.
  • Helia’s battery allows for more than double the range of a Tesla, whilst being a quarter of the size.
  • Achieving a motorway capable top speed.

“Currently there is a lot of news about the decline of the UK’s automotive industry but working with our partners has shown us that there is a very strong network of automotive companies.

Many of our partners are world leaders in automotive engineering, R&D and high value manufacturing but are not necessarily household names.

The UK has an abundance of this expertise and we have been very fortunate to leverage their capabilities in Helia.”

The team are currently preparing to take Helia to the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia, where they will undertake a gruelling 3000 km competition across the Outback against teams from across the planet, this October 13th to 20th. 

CUER is targeting a podium finish in the Cruiser Class – a race category where teams must build multiple occupancy vehicles that are practical, fast and efficient.

The toughest part of the competition this year includes a 1200km stretch which the team will need to complete in just 2 days without recharging from the grid, all whilst carrying four people on board. 

Key Facts Summary:

  • Battery range of 900km
  • Top speed 120kph
  • Carbon fibre chassis tub and carbon fibre body panels
  • 550kg kerb weight
  • 5 square metres of 25% efficient silicon solar cells on the roof
  • Created by a team of 20 Cambridge University students working part time (one full time team member)
  • Chargeable from a conventional electric vehicle charger

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