Esteban, Polytechnique Montreal's Solar Car


The transport industry is now faced with two problematics: the decreasing availability of energy resources and the incompatibility of our current energy sources with a long term environmentaly friendly industrial development.

Our dependence on fossil fuels forces us to consider other types of energy such as renewable energies. The solar car gives us the opportunity to make the public aware of the potential of solar energy, often put aside especially due to its high cost. If there is a lot of work to do, we must not forget the progress that has been done: from the first solar cells of Charles Fritts, in 1883, which would only transform 1% of the solar energy in courant, until the indium gallium arsenide modern cells, that went up to 40% of efficiency. The prospects offered are becoming more and more interesting.

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.

All phases of the project are carried out by the students, the preliminary design for test drives, through fundraising and suppliers, as well as the construction of the vehicle. Esteban is a unique environment where students can gain experience, deepen areas of interest while learning from more experienced students.



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Esteban 9 has been unveiled the 23 April 2018. Due to the many modification in the regulation of the FSGP and the ASC, the project had to raise new challenges. Among the modified 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.
  • The requirements for the pilot's position are more restrictive.

The diminution of the surface of solar panel has been the biggest challenge. Indeed, we had a smallest amount of energy, but a similar consummation. We had to optimize our aerodynamics as well as our electrical system.

The car won the first place at Formula Sun Grand Prix 2018 and 2019, and 4th at the’American Solar Challenge 2018.

Specification sheet of Esteban 9
Length 3.30 m (10.8″)
Width 1.80 m (5.9″)
Height 1.00 m (3.3″)
Total mass 198 kg (437 lbs)
Speed 70 km/h (cruise)
110 km/h (max)
Chassis Semi-monocoque carbon fiber and Corecell
Cell Area 4m2 (1.0 kW)
Maximum Motor Power 5 kW
Battery 5.07 Li-Ion



Esteban 8 is the first prototype completed by the project with 4 wheels. Reveal the 30 may 2016. The car as participate in the: Formula Sun Grand Prix 2016, to’American Solar Challenge 2016 and Formula Sun Grand Prix 2017.

To finance the project, an Indiegogo campaign was launched. It allowed 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 Semi-monocoque carbon fiber and 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, to’American Solar Challenge 2014 and Formula Sun Grand Prix 2015.

During the Formula Sun Grand Prix (PGFTU) 2014, the experienced team a flying start by being the 3rd team succeed all the static and dynamic tests. It is well placed 3rd at the starting line. However, a severe test awaited the team on this first day of racing. Indeed, an engine manufacturing defect prevented the car from rolling during the second day of competition, thus leaving him only the third day to qualify.

Esteban VII and the team returned to the PGFTU in 2015 to add one more to the car race. She had to face many hardships, including a constant struggle with the warm temperature that threatened to trigger the safety devices on the battery. With a good strategy and the adjustments made by the team after 192 laps in 3 days, the car managed to finish the race. In the end, the team got the second spot and a mention for 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 Semi-monocoque carbon fiber and 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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For two years, the team of Esteban III continued the research partners while improving different parts of the car. In fact, only the shell and the solar surface were kept Esteban II, when all the mechanics has been redesigned and improved electrical.

The team was ready and more confident than ever to cross the finish line of the American Solar Challenge. It is with the low morale that the team returned from the competition: they failed to pass the technical evaluation. Experience has allowed to experience greater success with 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 dutt envoyer la voiture Esteban IV 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 récompensés 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 was increased from 8m to 6m. In addition, the pilot's seat was now set to 27 ° to the vertical. Both changes are part of many others that will one day enable manufacturers to design a car that is closer to a marketable conventional car than a race car.


First prototype Polytechnic to have qualified and completed the ASC ralley

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