P14 Penumbra


As technology advances to new heights, a team of dedicated students at Iowa State University is changing the world by developing the world’s most advanced, fully sustainable electric vehicle. The first project of its kind for PrISUm, Penumbra was constructed with the consumer in mind. PrISUm sought to break away from the mold of performance-based solar cars and instead create one designed for anyone and everyone to drive in – whether it’s taking the kids to soccer practice, a trip to the grocery store, or a cross-country road trip.

PrISUm shocked the world with its reveal in June 2017, featuring innovative technologies never before seen in a solar electric vehicle. Penumbra’s iconic hatch design is able to fit and easily load anything you might need for a trip with friends – including a cooler, a bike, or a pair of skis. The built-in infotainment system supplies all your navigation and music needs, coupled with a pair of impressive JBL speakers. An advanced, localized battery protection system ensures you and your loved ones are safe as you cruise. A theme of Penumbra is bringing incredible technologies to all four passengers who can drive in it.

Penumbra’s first tour – to all 99 counties of Iowa in the summer of 2017 – proved PrISUm’s central goal true in designing Penumbra when feedback was overwhelmingly positive from everyone ranging from professional engineers to elementary school students. The 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, in which 15 students from Iowa State University drove Penumbra from Darwin to Adelaide across the harsh Australian Outback – proved the durability of this vehicle through sand, rain, and the occasional kangaroo crossing. PrISUm truly had built a practical solar-powered vehicle everyone could envision in their driveways – and then drive anywhere they wanted using the power of the Sun.



2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

Penumbra was the first of PrISUm’s solar cars to compete at the World Solar Challenge and competed against multi-occupant Cruiser Class cars from across the world. The race ran the length of the Stuart highway in Australia, connecting the north and south coasts. Starting in Darwin and ending in Adelaide, this race was an incredible experience to prove what Penumbra is capable of and see what people across the world think of solar-powered transportation from Ames, Iowa.

Saturday, October 7th: Dynamic Scrutineering at the Hidden Valley Motor Sports Complex.
Sunday, October 8th: Ceremonial start in Darwin, Australia
Friday, October 13th: Finish the race in Adelaide, Australia. (team will jump in Three Rivers Fountain)
Saturday, October 14th: Practicality judging
Sunday, October 15th: Awards ceremony in Adelaide, Australia

2018 American Solar Challenge

Unfortunately, Penumbra did not qualify for the 2018 American Solar Challenge. We chose to follow along the route and display Penumbra at stage stops. We took the opportunity to perform more outreach with Penumbra and demonstrate the innovation that the team has built into Penumbra. We are more than a simple race team, we are PrISUm Solar Car, we will come out stronger for this situation because we will reflect, analyze, and ensure that this situation does not repeat itself ever again and we will grow as a team to heights we have never seen.


  1. Omaha, NE (Starting line) – July 14
  2. Grand Island, NE (Checkpoint) – July 14
  3. Gering, NE (Stage stop) – July 15 – 16
  4. Casper, WY (Checkpoint) – July 16
  5. Lander, WY (Stage stop) – July 17-18
  6. Farson, WY (Checkpoint) – July 18
  7. Arco, ID (Stage stop) – July 19 – 20
  8. Mountain Home, ID (Checkpoint) – July 20
  9. Burns, OR (Stage stop) – July 21 – 22
  10. Bend, OR (Finish line) – July 22