The chart above shows 2017 team composition for the Eindhoven and Bochum solar car teams (divided by study major, not team responsibility). Not surprisingly, electrical and mechanical engineering students are the core of both teams (about half in each case) Yet there is also considerable diversity, because the business side of a solar car team requires other skills too. The Bochum team also includes a media unit, which explains the large “other” category (one of the team photographers is a biology student, for example).
The chart was constructed by parsing web pages, which may have introduced errors (also, I guessed a bit with the German words). But the main point stands – solar car teams require a diverse set of skills.
Based on the official results, the chart below (click to zoom) shows the final scores for the WSC Cruiser class. Each team has three coloured bars: first the number of person-kilometres, which should be large (black icons show occupied seats and white icons empty seats), then the energy usage, which should be small (number of charges, which is 6 in each case, times battery capacity), and finally the overall efficiency score, which should be large again (it is the ratio of those first two numbers). The rule for the efficiency score bar is: first bar divided by second bar, then scale so that the largest result is 80%. The scaled practicality scores out of 20 (grey bars) are then added. Eindhoven is the clear winner, with Bochum second.
The chart below (click to zoom) shows the raw practicality scores for all Cruisers (finishing, non-finishing, and non-starting).
Interior of the thyssenkrupp blue.cruiser, the car from Hochschule Bochum
My “Sustainability” gem for the World Solar Challenge goes to Hochschule Bochum for their elegant interior, finished with renewable natural products such as pineapple leather, vegetable linens, wood, and cork.
The “Sustainability” gem goes to Hochschule Bochum
The car we did not see, Persian Gazelle 4 from the University of Tehran
The “Sexy Car” gem goes to the car we did not see, Persian Gazelle 4 from the University of Tehran. This car was heavily damaged in transit, and was unable to race. It looked beautiful, though, being reminiscent of a Lamborghini Aventador.
The “Sexy Car” gem goes to the University of Tehran
Red Shift, the car from Solar Team Twente
Previously awarded was the “Best Solar Car Name” gem, to Solar Team Twente, for their car name, Red Shift. Twente’s car name was a reference to the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, as well as continuing the naming sequence previously established with their Red Engine (2013) and Red One (2015) – and being a really, really geeky way of saying “eat my dust.” The car was indeed very fast.
The “Best Solar Car Name” gem went to Solar Team Twente
I will need to re-do this at some point, but the poster below shows the favourites (based purely on 2015 performance) for the 2017 World Solar Challenge (click to zoom). There is a very interesting mix of designs this year! For more details, see my annotated list of teams.
For the WSC Challenger class, this is not a difficult question. Nuon Solar Team owns the race, and has won six times out of eight this century (although “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”). The more interesting question is: who is second? There are four main contenders for that honour.
A few years ago, I would have placed Tokai University second. They won the race in 2009 and 2011. However, unless they can reverse the trend, their star seems to be falling.
Michigan are very definitely the best US team. However, they have pointed out themselves that they suffer “the curse of third,” and thus far lack the je ne sais quoi that it takes to win (of course, when they find it, Nuon had better watch out).
The star of Solar Team Twente is rising. They worked their way up to second place in 2015. They could win this year.
Finally, the Belgian team from KU Leuven is also moving up, and I expect them to do very well this year also.
In the WSC Cruiser class, “best” is a fuzzier concept. However, Eindhoven, Bochum, and UNSW/Sunswift have all done consistently well, with Eindhoven winning the last two races.