Futuristic solar-powered Dutch family car gives energy back to the grid

Solar Team Eindhoven vehicle ‘Stella Vie’ from the Netherlands pictured in front of the Adelaide Town Hall near the finish line of an epic 3,000-kilometer solar car race across Australia’s outback. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Futuristic solar-powered Dutch family car gives energy back to the grid

ADELAIDE: A futuristic Dutch family car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies energy back to the grid was hailed as “the future” Sunday as the World Solar Challenge wrapped up.
The innovative bi-annual contest, first run in 1987, began in Darwin a week ago with 41 vehicles setting off on a 3,000-kilometer trip through the heart of Australia to Adelaide.
Dutch car “Nuna 9” won the race for the third-straight time, crossing the finish line on Thursday after traveling at an average speed of 81.2 kilometers per hour.
It was competing in the Challenger class, which featured slick, single seat aerodynamic vehicles built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency.
But there was also a Cruiser class, introduced to bridge the gap between high-end technology and everyday driving practicality.
German team HS Bochum was the first to arrive Friday with its stylish four-seater classic coupe, featuring sustainable materials such as vegan pineapple leather seats.
But another Dutch team, Eindhoven, was set to be crowned overall champion based on a system taking into account design, practicality, energy efficiency, and innovation, organizers said.
Their family car, “Stella Vie,” carried five people at an average speed of 69 kilometers per hour, with event director Chris Selwood saying it was a practical demonstration of what the future might look like.
“These incredible solar cars have been designed with the commercial market in mind and have all the features you’d expect in a family, luxury or sporting car,” he said.
“Team Eindhoven are to be congratulated on their achievement to date — clearly the most energy efficient solar car in the field, capable of generating more power than they consume.
“This is the future of solar electric vehicles. When your car is parked at home it can be charging and supplying energy back to the grid.”
Cars in the race were mostly developed by universities or corporations, with teams hailing from around the world.
They were allowed to store a small amount of energy but the majority of their power had to come from the sun and the vehicle’s kinetic forces.
Team Eindhoven said its vision had been to build a family car with a balance between aerodynamic, aesthetic and practical design.
“We think we succeeded very well with a car that is more efficient than its predecessors and includes some state-of-the-art technologies to not only generate energy but also supply it back to the grid,” they said.
“Through a smart charging and discharging system she charges the battery when the demand of energy from the grid is high and vice versa. Any surplus energy generated can easily be supplied back to the grid.”
Of the 12 Cruiser class cars that started, six finished.
As well as the German and Dutch entrants, vehicles from Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States also crossed the finish line.


BMW plans massive cost cuts to keep profits from sputtering

Updated 51 min 22 sec ago
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BMW plans massive cost cuts to keep profits from sputtering

  • ‘Our business model must remain a profitable one in the digital era,’ chief executive Harald Krueger said
  • Total number of employees is set to remain flat at around 135,000 worldwide

MUNICH: German high-end carmaker BMW warned Wednesday it expects pre-tax profits “well below” 2018 levels this year as it announced a massive cost-cutting scheme aimed at saving $13.6 billion (€12 billion) in total by 2022.
A spokesman said that “well below” could indicate a tumble of more than 10 percent.
The Munich-based group’s 2019 result will be burdened with massive investments needed for the transition to electric cars, exchange rate headwinds and rising raw materials prices, it said in a statement.
Meanwhile it must pump more cash into measures to meet strict European carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions limits set to bite from next year.
And a one-off windfall in 2018’s results will create a negative comparison, even though pre-tax profits already fell 8.1 percent last year.
Bosses expect a “slight increase” in sales of BMW and Mini cars, with a slightly fatter operating margin that will nevertheless fall short of their 8.0-percent target.
“We will continue to implement forcefully the necessary measures for growth, continuing performance increases and efficiency,” finance director Nicolas Peter said at the group’s annual press conference.
BMW aims to achieve €12 billion of savings in the coming years through “efficiency improvements” including reducing the complexity of its range.
“Our business model must remain a profitable one in the digital era,” chief executive Harald Krueger said.
This year, most new recruits at the group will be IT specialists, while the total number of employees is set to remain flat at around 135,000 worldwide.
Departures from the sizeable fraction of the workforce born during the post-World War II baby boom and now reaching retirement age “will allow us to adapt the business even more to future topics,” BMW said.
All the firm’s forecasts are based on London and Brussels reaching a deal for an orderly Brexit and the United States foregoing new import taxes on European cars.
“Developments in tariffs” remain “a significant factor of uncertainty” in looking to the future, finance chief Peter said, adding that “the preparations for the UK’s exit from the EU will weigh on 2019’s results as well.”
In annual results released ahead of schedule last Friday, BMW blamed trade headwinds and new EU emissions tests for net profits tumbling 16.9 percent in 2018, to €7.2 billion.