End-to-end automotive logistics solution helps Sonnenwagen Aachen’s solar car hit the road

Published on: Dec 05, 2023

Automotive logistics solution for solar-powered car


In fall 2023, a group of electrical engineering students from RWTH Aachen University and FH Aachen who specialize in creating efficient solar-powered vehicles needed to ship one of their cars — cost-effectively and carefully — from Germany to Australia for the annual Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The emissions-free race of more than 3,000 kilometers (about 1,864 miles) across the Australian Outback was not only an opportunity for the team, dubbed Sonnenwagen Aachen, to put their vehicle to the test, but also to raise awareness of sustainable mobility. AIT’s multimodal, comprehensive logistics solution delivered the car on time, and in race condition.

CHALLENGE: Sensitive freight, tight timeline 

The prospect of shipping overseas was particularly challenging for the team due to the delicate and dangerous nature of the batteries and technology used to build and support the solar-powered racing vehicle. They were also on a strict timeline dictated by the event schedule in Australia.

The team was also inexperienced with customs clearance, oftentimes a daunting challenge even for seasoned international shippers. 

SOLUTION: End-to-end multimodal shipping 

In collaboration with the Sonnenwagen Aachen team, as well as AIT’s local partner in Australia, AIT-Germany developed a multimodal solution: fast, low-impact airfreight for the solar car, economical ocean shipping for the accompanying equipment, and trucking in both Germany and Australia.

This dual-mode solution prioritized time-efficiency and cargo security, protecting the delicate vehicle and its sensitive supporting technology from pick up to final delivery.

Upon completion of the race, all materials were meticulously repackaged and transported back to Germany. 

AIT’s expertise in international customs protocols was especially instrumental in the shipment’s success. The team was proactive in addressing all potential bottlenecks, particularly focusing on adherence to the timeline by all parties involved, including our partner in Australia.

The AIT Difference Makers

  • Strong carrier relationships
  • Dangerous goods shipping experience
  • Customs clearance expertise
  • Extensive automotive shipping capabilities
  • Proactive communication and 24/7 operational support

RESULT: Complex shipping, executed seamlessly

Thanks to AIT-Germany's automotive logistics experts, Sonnenwagen Aachen’s solar-powered car and its support equipment made it to Australia in great condition and in time for the race.

Not only was the project smooth from start to finish, but it was also a more cost-effective and hands-on solution compared to other freight forwarders’ proposals.

Although the team faced disappointment during the event when the vehicle rolled over, no one was injured, and AIT is confident more success is just down the road for Sonnenwagen Aachen.

With a two-year sponsorship deal in place, and more international competitions on the horizon, AIT is already developing additional strategic logistics solutions for Team Sonnenwagen.

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