It’s a bit of a stretch calling Appalachian State University / Sunergy (click: ) a new solar car team. Having rebuilt the shell of an old car donated by PrISUm, they first hit the American solar car scene at FSGP 2015 (where they failed scrutineering), ASC 2016 (where they came 6th), and FSGP 2017 (where they came a satisfying 2nd). But this year they did become a new team (in the Cruiser class), with their first car built from scratch, ROSE.
AppState’s ROSE (picture credit)
The Cruiser class is, in some ways, a tougher race than the Challenger class, but it’s an easier sell (to sponsors and to the general public). For example, I’m a big fan of Nuon’s beautiful and efficient Nuna 9S (the Stradivarius of solar cars), but you can’t really point to it and say “this is the future of transportation.” It’s far too cramped for that – more like an elegant mathematical proof or a work of art than like a practical vehicle. However, “the future of transportation” would be a feasible label for Cruisers like Eindhoven’s Stella Lux or Bochum’s SunRiser – so it’s not surprising that many solar car teams want to emulate those two pioneers.
The Stradivarius of solar cars, from Dutch champions Nuon, is nevertheless a little cramped (picture credit)
AppState did the right thing by attending ASC 2018, although their car had apparently not even been turned on before the race. Because of electrical problems, they did not manage to drive the entire distance – but they obtained good experience, and they know what to fix now. We can expect to see a greatly improved version of their car at the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Good luck, y’all!
AppState’s multi-stage path to the BWSC is a good model for other intending Cruiser class teams to follow. And with a drag coefficient of 0.17, they have not made the mistake of neglecting aerodynamics – because, in the Cruiser class, efficiency still rules.