Esteban, Polytechnique Montreal's Solar Car

Nowadays, the transportation sector has come face to face with two serious issus: the decreasing availability of classic energetic resources and the contradiction between those and a long-term vision of industrial development, while acknowledging environmental challenges.

Our dependence towards fossil fuels forces us to consider other types of energy, including renewable energies. The Solar Car enables us to raise awareness regarding the potential of solar power, which is often disregarded because of its high cost. Although there is still a lot of work to do, the important progress underwent in this field should not be overlooked. This progress has brought us from the first solar cell made by Charles Fritts in 1883, which could transform only 1% the solar energy into current, to modern cells, which are made from indium-gallium arsenide and have 40% of efficiency. And this path continues, from innovation to innovation, leading us to larger numbers of efficiency every year and offering perspective that are more and more realistic.

Engineers in the making, focused on environmental issues

Besides the message behind it, the Esteban Project is a real engineering project, from the design to the production, a project that helps students from Polytechnique Montreal to apply the knowledge they acquire in their courses to a real work experience.

Students are responsible for every phase of the project. From the preliminary design to road tests, including the research for funding and for suppliers, as well as the actual production of the vehicle. Esteban is a unique environment where students can gain experience, deepen their knowledge in different field of interest, while learning from senior students who can share their experience.


We are currently building our ninth prototype for our competitions in the summer 2018. Due to modification in the regulation of the FSGP and the ASC, the project as many new challenges to face. Among the new regulations there is:

  • The surface of solar panels as decrease to 4m² instead of 6 m².
  • 6 m² will be allowed during recharging periods (morning and evening).
  • Any structure for recharging should be in the car itself, which eliminates the use of brackets for our pannel (“solar trackers”).
  • The use of 4 wheels is now mandatory and the position of the driver is more restrictive.

(For more information see:

The panels surface decrease represents the biggest challenges. Indeed, we will have a smaller power source, but a similar consumption. It is therefore very important to optimize our aerodynamics and our electrical systems.

We have now completed the preliminary design of our car. We also started manufacturing various electrical systems and begin testing our solar panels.

Here is the design of our car!




Esteban 8 is the latest prototype completed by the project unveiled on May 30, 2016. The car was involved in Formula Sun Grand Prix 2016, the’American Solar Challenge 2016 and participate in Formula Sun Grand Prix 2017.

This is the first car built by the team with 4 wheels.

To finance the project, an Indiegogo campaign was launched allowing everyone to donate to the project to take a portion of the assembly of solar cells. With your support, we raised $ 2215. Thank you to all donors!

Datasheet Esteban 8
Length 4.721 m (15’5″)
Width 1.740 m (5’8″)
Height 1.063 m (3’5″)
Total mass 212 kg (467 lbs)
Speed 70 km/h (cruise)
110 km/h (max)
Chassis Carbon Fiber Semi-Monocoque with Corecell
Cell Area 6m2 ( 1.4 kW)
Maximum Motor Power 5kW
Battery 5.07 Li-Ion

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The 7th prototype Esteban participated in Formula Sun Grand Prix 2014, the’American Solar Challenge 2014 and the Formula Sun Grand Prix 2015.

During the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) 2014, the team had a great start by being the third team to pass all the static and dynamic tests and finishing third at the start line. However, a severe challenge awaited the team in its first day of racing. Indeed, an engine manufacturing defect prevented the car from rolling during the second day of competition, thus leaving us only the 3rd day to qualify.

Esteban VII and the team returned to FSGP in 2015 to enter the car in one final race. Facing many obstacles including a constant struggle with hot weather that threatened to trigger safety devices on the battery. With a good strategy and the adjustments made by the team that after 192 laps in three days the car managed to finish the race. In the end, the team got the second place and a mention for the best teamwork.

Esteban VII Specsheet
Length 4950mm (16'3″)
Width 1,750 mm (5'9″)
Height 970mm (3'4″)
Total mass 220kg
Speed 70 km/h (cruise)
110 km/h (max)
Chassis Carbon Fiber Semi-Monocoque with Corecell
Cell Area 6m2
Maximum Motor Power 5kW
Battery 3.2kW*h Li-Ion




In 1998, a group of students from the École Polytechnique in Montreal come together to give birth to a technical society of solar vehicle. Inspired by the cartoon "The cities of gold," the team christened the project under the name Esteban, the sun child. They work for four years to produce the first solar car prototype from École Polytechnique of Montreal, Esteban I.

This car part in qualifying for the American Solar Challenge in July 2001, but unfortunately failed to complete the necessary tricks to ensure a place on the start line due to electrical problems.

Never mind, it was not the end of the project so far. Once the school year in September 2001, the committee recruited new members in order to prepare the second prototype, Esteban II.

Datasheet Esteban I
Total length 5970 mm (19'7″)
overall width 1950mm (6'5″)
Total height (from the ground) 970mm (3'2″)
Height under the hull (cockpit level) 716mm (2'4″)
Height under the hull (grand level) 100mm (4″)
theoretical drag coefficient 0.05463
Total mass 300kg
Cell Area 8m2
maximum theoretical power 1250W
Efficiency 16,2%
Battery 5000W*h

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In September 2001, new students undertake to ensure continuity of ambitious project and begin the design of future vehicle Esteban II. The first year allows the complete overhaul of aerodynamic, mechanical and electrical components of the car and make the design by computer. The second year is used for construction, research partners and the preparation of the race CSA 2003. Esteban II team also strengthened its position over alternative energy by participating in various events and receiving several awards .

The American Solar Challenge 2003 was held in July 2003, and once again, the team failed to qualify for the race. The car was deemed too unstable to take the road to 3700 km.

Again, this does not herald the end of the project, but rather the beginning of two years of hard work to participate in the next race in July 2005.

Datasheet Esteban II
Total length 4900 mm (16'1″)
overall width 1780 mm (5'10”)
Drag coefficient 0,07714
Total mass 250 kg (with pilot)
Cell Area 8m2
maximum theoretical power 1000W
Efficiency 14,5%
Battery 5000W*h

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Pendant deux ans, l’équipe d’Esteban III a poursuivi la recherche de partenaires tout en améliorant différents points de la voiture. En fait, seules la coque et la surface solaire ont été conservées d’Esteban II, alors que toute la mécanique a été redessinée et l’électrique amélioré.

L’équipe était prête et plus confiante que jamais de franchir la ligne d’arrivée de l’American Solar Challenge. C’est avec le moral au plus bas que l’équipe revint de la compétition: ils ne réussirent pas à passer les évaluations techniques. L’expérience acquise permirent de connaître un plus grand succès avec Esteban IV.


Après la déception d’Esteban III, l’équipe décida de recommencer la voiture du début. Tout d’abord, le corps du véhicule fut construit en aluminium tubulaire pour permettre une plus grande flexibilité au moment d’ajouter des éléments sur la voiture. La coque fut conçue par infusion à l’aide d’un moule unique d’aluminium. Par contre, durant l’infusion, un problème survint au moment de mouler la coque du dessous pour laquelle des arrondis avait été ajouté au moule dans le but d’améliorer l’aérodynamisme.

Malgré plusieurs problèmes rencontrés durant la fabrication, l’équipe ne se découragea pas pour autant et s’inscrit de nouveau au North American Solar Challenge qui devait avoir lieu en juin 2007. C’est avec une grande déception que l’équipe apprit l’annulation de la compétition. Par contre, une autre en Australie, cette fois attira leur attention et, rapidement, l’équipe décida de s’inscrire à la compétition dénommée le Panasonic World Solar Challenge. Prévoyant les coûts logistiques de cette compétition de l’autre côté de la planète, de nombreux membres se mirent à la recherche de commanditaires. S’ayant pris quelque peu en retard pour l’inscription et les démarches logistiques, l’équipe dût envoyer la voiture EstebanIV en Australie à moitié terminée. Pour l’envoi de la voiture, ils prévirent un conteneur qui serait envoyé par bateau jusqu’en Australie, le tout en plus d’un mois et demi.

Une fois là-bas, l’équipe se remit au travail pour achever la voiture à temps pour les qualifications et pouvoir enfin espérer participer à une course depuis les balbutiements de l’équipe. Lors des qualifications techniques, ils reçurent les félicitations des officiels qui furent impressionnés par le système électrique de la voiture: l’excitation était à son comble! Lors des qualifications sur piste, la voiture fut l’une des plus rapides et le test pour la distance de freinage fut la meilleure toute catégorie confondue. Après deux longues années, ce fut enfin le moment pour les membres de l’équipe d’être récompenser pour tous leurs efforts déployés. Pour la première fois, une équipe de la voiture solaire Esteban allait participer à une compétition.

Back in Australia, the team was treated to several weeks extremely loaded. Not only the members were catching their courses, but also had several interviews recorded at their calendar. Their fourteenth position in Australia there was probably something! Esteban IV will be etched in the memory of the team as the one which has F-I-N-A-L-E-M-E-N-T successful.


The new regulation of Gobal Green Challenge (GGC) forced us to change several important elements on the vehicle from the team of Esteban IV. The solar cell surface is increased from 6m to 8m. In addition, the pilot's seat is now positioned at 27 ° relative to the vertical. Both changes are part of a series of changes that will allow manufacturers to design a car that is closer to a marketable conventional car than a race car.