In 2013, World Solar Challenge, the bi-annual solar car race from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia, introduced a Cruiser Class. The new Class was designed to encourage entries of more practical vehicles to a race that, until then had been dominated by low-height, single-passenger cars.
Julian and James Field, a father and son team based in Yorkshire, United Kingdom were inspired by the idea that solar powered vehicles might be a practical possibility for everyday use. In the autumn of 2013 they began to design a proof of concept vehicle stipulating that it had to be practical, affordable and road legal. In early 2014 their design was completed and a prototype built and by the summer the vehicle, named SPV1, began to undergo road testing.
SPV1 performed better than expected, achieving workable top speeds and a useful range. Its battery had a re-charge time of 3 hours under normal daylight conditions offering freedom from charge-up points. Higher top speeds could be reached by increasing the motor power and greater ranges achieved by adding storage capacity to the battery.
Modelling work carried out demonstrated that in countries where solar irradiation is higher than 5 kWh/m2 throughout the year, solar cars can meet much of the transport needs that are currently being provided by highly polluting legacy vehicles.
Encouraged by the performance of SPV1 and recognising the commercial potential of solar vehicles, the pair founded Solar Transport Systems (STS) and began work on a production vehicle. Seven years and over 5,000 engineering hours later the INTI was born. Named after the ancient Incan sun god, a prototype of the INTI is now in pre-production testing and a commercial launch is planned in 2022.
The INTI in numbers
30 engineers and designers
Over 5,000 engineering hours
Top speed: up to 60mph
Range: up to 80 km
Kerb weight: under 400kg
Price: under $20k
CO2 emissions: None
Fuel cost: None
We would like to acknowledge our amazing engineers and designers