HK‑built solar car off to the races

October 1, 2023

SOPHIE 8, a solar-powered electric car built to a streamlined modular design, was developed by students of engineering disciplines at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE).


Its customised motor system and energy-saving rubber tyres help it to achieve optimal energy efficiency.


Bell Cheng is a graduate of the IVE’s Higher Diploma in Electrical Engineering programme who remains a member of the SOPHIE 8 team.


Explaining the vehicle’s features, he said: “The team continues to use carbon fibre to make the shell of SOPHIE 8, making it strong and light in weight. Tyres made with energy-saving rubber are used to reduce rolling resistance and energy loss.


“To further improve energy efficiency, SOPHIE 8 uses a high-gain boost converter to achieve its high-voltage output, optimising energy utilisation and efficiency.”


Solar journey

This month, the team will participate in an epic road journey, the World Solar Challenge 2023, in Australia.


Teams are required to drive from Darwin, in the north of the country, to Adelaide in the south, transiting 3,000km across the Australian Outback in around six days.


In preparation, the SOPHIE 8 team have spent the last few months undergoing assembly and maintenance training, as well as testing on their vehicle.


IVE’s Higher Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering programme graduate Cheuk Kin-kwan said everyone involved had worked hard and hoped to achieve a good result.


“The competition presents a big challenge to the cars’ battery performance and energy management strategies,” he added. “It requires grit and determination, as well as professional knowledge, from participants.”


Tangible experience

IVE Deputy Academic Director (Engineering) Lam Tze-shan said the competition has allowed participating students to apply and put into practice the knowledge they have gained from their studies.


“Being involved in the development of the solar-powered car can help them to understand trends in the development of new energy generation and in the engineering industry,” he stressed.


“Participating in this kind of world-class competition, actually they can build up their team spirit, sense of belonging and self-confidence.”


In this year’s World Solar Challenge, more than 40 teams from different countries and regions will compete across three vehicle classes.


SOPHIE 8 is the sole representative from Hong Kong.

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