Self-powered solar campervan embarks on Swiss tour

Presentation of the Soleva campervan at the "PVinMotion2024" conference, organized by CSEM © CSEM

Presentation of the Soleva campervan at the "PVinMotion2024" conference, organized by CSEM © CSEM

The Swiss technology innovation center CSEM has announced that Soleva, a campervan powered by 100% self-produced solar energy, has begun a tour of Switzerland. The project of EPFL alumni, the campervan is equipped with lightweight solar panel technology developed by CSEM in collaboration with EPFL's Thin-Film Photovoltaics Lab (PV-Lab).

Equipped with advanced solar panels from CSEM, Soleva can meet all its energy needs and charge up to 150 kilometers per day. Thanks to its batteries and motor, it boasts an impressive autonomy of nearly 250 kilometers.

Led by a team of young Swiss engineers, the project represents a pivotal step in the adoption of soft mobility. The conversion of the 1987 campervan, which originally ran on diesel fuel, has reduced its carbon footprint by 80% compared to traditional vehicles, but it is still practical, attractive, and affordable. The van will traverse more than 100 municipalities on its tour, making key stops in Lausanne, Zurich, Davos, Lugano, and Sion.

The School of Engineering's PV-Lab, led by Christophe Ballif, contributed to developing the solar panels.

“CSEM and the PV-Lab are delighted to have contributed to the Soleva project, particularly by adding 1350 watts of solar power based on resilient, hail-resistant, lightweight photovoltaic module technology," said PV-Lab team leader Antonin Faes in a CSEM press release.

This Swiss tour marks the beginning of a crucial test phase to evaluate the prototype's performance. The lessons learned from this adventure will inform future concept improvements and explore partnership opportunities for future industrialization. Soleva aims to convert more utility and professional transport vehicles, contributing to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly mobility landscape.

“This project was not only a technical feat, but is also an inspiring illustration of what passion, innovation and determination can achieve,” said Curdin Wüthrich, an EPFL alumnus who is now co-founder and CEO of Soleva.