Continuing the analysis of my Solar Racing Basics Poster (see this tag), let us look at the mechanical aspects of solar cars. In order to drive, the car obviously needs steering (up until 2019, four-wheel steering was allowed, and it had some advantages). Brakes are essential too, of course. The car also needs a suspension, which allows individual wheels to move up and down (a double wishbone suspension is common for the front wheels). Attached to the suspension are shock absorbers and springs.
The mechanical parts of the car need to be strong, but not too heavy. They need to be able to survive the vibration that comes from driving more than 3,000 kilometres along the Stuart Highway (balancing strength and weight can lead to some roadside repairs, as in this Vattenfall/Delft video). And in small or narrow cars, considerable creativity is needed to fit all the mechanical components inside!
Click to zoom / Image credits: Agoria Solar Team (Agoria’s award-winning partial four-wheel steering, 2017) and Anthony Dekker (interior of Twente’s exceptionally tiny RED E showing the suspension, 2019)