Procrastinating during the exam phase… which self reflecting student doesn’t know what that is? While we all know how incredibly productive the average person can be at avoidance activities, be it binge watching of Youtube videos, online shopping (sustainable, of course) or the long overdue vacuuming of the room’s side boards, a group of students in Aachen had something completely different in mind. On a hot July day in 2015 they thought, why not build a vehicle powered solely by solar energy? And why not just present at the world’s largest solar vehicle rally the following year, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia? This was the birth and the beginning of the wonderful journey of the Sonnenwagen Aachen Association.

SOLARLIGHT EXPRESS –
SOAKING UP THE SUN A DIFFERENT WAY

Category: Mobility     Text: Wanda von Mandelsloh

Photo: Team Sonnenwagen Aachen
Procrastinating during the exam phase… which self reflecting student doesn’t know what that is? While we all know how incredibly productive the average person can be at avoidance activities, be it binge watching of Youtube videos, online shopping (sustainable, of course) or the long overdue vacuuming of the room’s side boards, a group of students in Aachen had something completely different in mind. On a hot July day in 2015 they thought, why not build a vehicle powered solely by solar energy? And why not just present at the world’s largest solar vehicle rally the following year, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia? This was the birth and the beginning of the wonderful journey of the Sonnenwagen Aachen Association.
FROM BRIGHT TO CLOUDY – SOLAR RACING WITHOUT SUN?
In order not to torture you any further, we’re going to fast forward to October 2017. The solar car is on its feet (uh tires) and the participation in the race is confirmed. The track is 3022 km across the Australian outback, with 296 solar cells on the car hump, the finish line in Adelaide. The weather doesn’t make it any easier for the participants. As it turns out, the combination of relatively little sunshine and a high proportion of clouds and rain is not exactly the most gracious companion in a solar powered race. The WSC 2017 had the worst weather since its 30th anniversary, and some newcomers even had to stop after the first few days. But not the Sonnenwagen. In fact, the Aachen team tackles the full distance, sometimes going at speeds of over 70 kilometres per hour on the Stuart Highway (remember it is powered by the sun alone!). Finally, on the biblical seventh day, Team Sonnenwagen Aachen is the best rookie at the finish line of Adelaide’s famous Square Fontaine.

No gas? No problem: The Aachen students are still getting off to a full start with their solar powered SONNENWAGEN – as well as the best newcomer at the ‘World Solar Challenge 2017.’ Photos: Team Sonnenwagen Aachen
RESPECT AND ROBUSTNESS
But anyone who might be thinking that the story of the Sonnenwagen Aachen Association has peaked here, is sorely mistaken. The Australian WSC Race 2017 was only the starting point for the ambitious students and their solar power device. In 2018, they took part in Europe’s equivalent of the WSC, the European Solar Challenge 2018 in Belgium, where the team secured third place in the 24-hour race (that means all day and all night). Currently the club is also already in the middle of preparing for the next round across the Australian outback. Everything needs to sit right for the World Solar Challenge 2019, from the aerodynamic design to the optimal battery to the high-performance brake light. This year the team will start with the second generation of their beloved solar car, but their motto remains the same: Respect and robustness.
SONNENWAGEN MEETS THE GREENTECH FESTIVAL
If you would like to find out more about the Sonnenwagen Aachen Association and its adventurous, environmentally friendly journey around the world, and in the best case, do it in person, then you’re in for a treat! During the GREENTECH FESTIVAL exhibition which is taking place between May 24th and 25th in Berlin, the association will be on site as an exhibitor and would love to answer your questions. We’re staying true to our GREENTECH FESTIVAL motto: #celebratechange!

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