On Friday afternoon the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team came together to unveil Eleanor, the group’s newest upright-seating, solar-electric car.

Having never seen a solar car in person, I was completely taken by it. Imagine a stingray that has been bred with the mother of all Apple iPods, and you’re starting to get it. Sleek, flat, otherwordly. It was incredible.


After hearing from a few students and faculty, the team lifted off Eleanor’s top cover and showed us her electrical innards.

Eleanor with top off

I talked to one graduate student, Robert Pilawa, who has worked on the car’s electrical components—in his spare time, which raises an interesting point: For the most part, Eleanor was built in the students’ spare time. For that reason, Pilawa said that the hardest part of a project like this one was making time to work on it.

“Students are incredibly busy, so they can work hard for awhile, and then academics come in. Work goes in bursts and varies by team member,” he said.

This fall Eleanor will head cross country and then be flown to Australia to take place in the World Solar Challenge.

Learn more about the World Solar Challenge.

Learn more about Eleanor.

Watch a quick video that shows the team moving the top of the car and gives a glimpse of what’s under the hood.