Student designed solar car goes on tour ahead of representing Turkiye at the European Solar Challenge

Students from Istanbul Technical University (ITU) are road-testing their solar-powered car across Turkiye before they head to Belgium next month for the European Solar Challenge.

The students are being sponsored by Zorlu Energy, Turkiye’s largest geothermal energy company. The collaboration with Zorlu’s next generation Energy Solutions brand has led to ITU’s latest solar-powered car being named ARIBA ZES X.

The futuristic car was shown off at a press conference in Istanbul on 4 August, before embarking on a 1,300 kilometre tour of Turkiye.

The ARIBA ZES X set off from Istanbul on 7 August and has already visited Bursa, Eskişehir, and Konya. Its last stop will be the capital Ankara, concluding the five-day tour on 12 August.

The vehicle has been recharging using ZES electric vehicle charging stations along the route and taking part in various events in the different cities it is visiting to help raise awareness about the possibilities of solar energy and car travel that doesn’t harm the environment.

The bronze coloured car has attracted the attention of ordinary members of the public, and bemused and curious police officers, who have stopped and questioned the driver about the vehicle.

ITU is one of Turkiye’s leading universities. Its Solar Car Team have designed and produced a total of ten solar cars to date. Following the sponsorship agreement with Zorlu, the team has been renamed the ITU ZES Solar Car Team.

ITU and Zorlu Energy hope their two year deal, which goes beyond financial support from Zorlu, will set a good example for future Turkish university-industry co-operation.

During the ITU ZES Solar Car Team press conference, ITU Rector Prof. Dr. İsmail Koyuncu thanked the sponsors, students and academics involved in the pioneering solar project and said:

“The ITU ZES Solar Car Team carries out important studies every year in the fields of renewable energy sources, sustainable development goals, advanced vehicle technologies, electric vehicles and charging stations. We try to support our students’ diligent efforts as much as we can.”

Evren Evcit, Director of Zorlu Solar and Foreign Investments, explained how Zorlu is focusing on next generation smart energy systems. The company entered the field of solar energy and technologies in 2017 as part of their investment vision in renewable energy, and are globally known brand for their solar panels.

“There is great demand for our solar modules, which we started to produce last year and introduced under our brand ZES. Our roadmap is to focus on solar energy and solutions that make a difference,” said Evcit.

“This collaboration, which was established to encourage the use of solar energy and to contribute to the efforts of young people to create learning-based scientific projects, is also a good example of university-industry cooperation,” he added.

iLumen European Solar Challenge 2022

The ITU ZES Solar Car Team will be representing Turkiye in the European Solar Challenge, a solar car competition being held in Belgium between 16 and 18 September.

Known as the iLumen European Solar Challenge, or IESC for short, it is the world’s only 24-hour endurance race for solar cars. It takes place every two years (on even-numbered years) at the former F1 track of Circuit Zolder in Heusden-Zolder.

The IESC website states that, “At the race track, the solar cars can show their full potential with low power consumption and fantastic aerodynamics over a full day.”

The website explains that, “During the Challenge, each team can make a maximum of 2 stops for charging” and that teams have been allowed participate with two solar cars since 2018.