Stanford Solar Car Project: Racing on Sunshine


To commemorate the 25th year anniversary of the Stanford Solar Car Project, the Precourt Institute for Energy presents a documentary about the Stanford team’s top-five finish in the 2013 World Solar Challenge – a grueling 2000-mile race across the Australian outback. The documentary features team members, family and industry supporters, including project sponsors Panasonic and STMicroelectronics, as well as Google and Tesla Motors.

Founded in 1989, the Stanford Solar Car Project is a student-run organization fueled by its members’ passion for environmentally minded technology. The team designs, builds, and races solar-powered vehicles to compete in the World Solar Challenge, a major international event held every other year in Australia. In the 2013 World Solar Challenge, the Stanford car, Luminos, placed fourth, the best performance in Stanford history, earning them the title of America’s top solar car team. A new team and a new car will compete in the next World Solar Challenge in October 2015.

Unlike many universities that compete in Australia, the Stanford Solar Car Project consists primarily of undergraduates, providing students a unique opportunity to gain valuable hands-on engineering and business experience, while raising community awareness of the power of solar energy and the need for lighter, more efficient vehicles.

Team members balance their involvement with work and academics, but always remain dedicated to the collective effort of building one of the world’s most efficient vehicles from scratch and competing against other universities from around the world. Members typically join the project with little to no engineering background and gradually build their knowledge while working on a vehicle.

As the documentary shows, coordinating a project of this magnitude requires considerable management and planning, giving students the opportunity to develop vital business skills in an engineering environment. With this approach, the team has fostered nine generations of vehicles, proving that a hands-on education in creative design and execution can produce impressive results.

The documentary is produced by Mark Shwartz, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University.

For information about sponsoring the Stanford Solar Car Project visit:

Additional background:
Stanford Solar Car Project:

World Solar Challenge:

Precourt Institute for Energy:


35 replies
    FPVREVIEWS says:

    The people in charge keep saying it's so incredible that these students have built a car without having graduated yet. What does the graduation ceremony have to do with competence? They built a battery with a management system, and have not even graduated yet! oh, wow! Amazing! (sarcasm)
    It is great that the support was provided in so many ways for the students. And what a great car!

  2. paul8kangas
    paul8kangas says:

    Put the 100-panel solar home before the e-car.

    The fastest & safest way to stop global warming is to
    build 100-panel solar homes.

    The most amazing race to watch is the race to shut down all nukes in Germany by 2-26-2022.
    In only 6 years Germany will shut down all its nukes by building 100,000 new 100-panel solar homes
    & 100,000 new windmills.

    If Germany can do this so can California, but only if we build
    a massive number of decentralized 100-panel solar homes.

    We do not want centralized, giant solar farms, controlled by Big Oil, which controls most of the ideas coming out of Stanford U.,

    We do not want "Clean Power SF" which was created by Shell Oil.
    Read the article "Feeding the beast to green the planet?"
    on line, in Solar Times.

    Yes you can build a 100-panel solar home.
    It takes less time and costs less money that flying to a rally
    at the UN in NYC.

    Please vote for Supervisor Scott Wiener, the author of the great SF law that requires all new buildings to be solar powered.

    Scott is running for State Senate in California.
    Help Scott continue his great work in the Senate.

    This will give the working class the lions share of income from selling solar onto the grid.

  3. Rob K
    Rob K says:

    specs? what is the motor wattage/voltage, battery voltage/amp hours, vs. watts/amps that solar panels produce. I think this is critical information to understand how this is all possible.

  4. byAARD
    byAARD says:

    Hello!! PLEASE if someone knows a lot about solar power cars or knows how to build one, please contact me via skype (chat): arojasdecut
    I am planning to design one for my IB personal project
    (Sorry for my bad English, is not my native language)

  5. 19Marc79
    19Marc79 says:

    On the day that the oil has run out on a global scale, we will realize that this "intense moving around the planet with combustion engines in the 20th and 21st century" was just a crazy ADHS phase in the human histoy.
    When humanity has been cured from the obsession of moving faster than the body can do with its own muscle power, than life will be slow, easy and simple again 🙂 (And when I read my comment here in 50 years again I will probably laugh about the ignorance with which I wrote this comment here back in the year 2016 😉

    RIPPERTON says:

    Are you cheating if you put solar panels on the chase truck to charge a bank of batteries inside the truck then use that energy to power a light bank positioned over the car to recharge its batteries at night.

  7. Vidrax
    Vidrax says:

    a tip, 2015 year, add a few "windbelts" to the model, spread them around the structure and you'll be able to sustein the car for much longer periods, including night,… Or jist convert the car structure itself into the windbelt system poles, and strech some tapes… Basicly the wind will flow trough the car, and make the windobelts produce energy even during night…


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