With the race to alternative fuel long underway, solar powered cars are no longer a thing of the future. There are a fair amount of obstacles between engineers and the creation of a cost-effective, reliable solar-powered car, but that hasn’t stopped scientists from coming out with some major breakthroughs.
powered vehicle made for road travel in the United States. It doesn’t have quite the sex appeal of the Tesla Roadster, but it can cart around up to five passengers for 500 miles on a single charge. The Roadster tops out at 300 miles, so that’s a pretty significant advantage.
The car looks pretty stupid for what an ingenious feat it represents; the same team just released the 2015 Stella Lux, which has a range of up to 621 miles and a top speed of 77 miles per hour.
The concept of solar-powered vehicles has caught the eye of many inventors and engineers, but everyone seems to want to do it differently. Tesla Roadster owners keep their solar panels on the roofs of their houses, where their cars and plug in and power up after a day of use. Tesla engineers claim that vehicle roof solar panels are impractical for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being that there isn’t enough room on the roof of a car. A car’s roof is also more prone to getting dirty than that of a house. This means that the Stella’s panels would need to be washed vigilantly to remain effective, which could be difficult if it were being driven through dusty terrain.
Despite these shortcomings, the Australian-engineered Immortus exhibited at SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas this year manages to make the solar-paneled roof model both functional and attractive.
The Immortus was built to compete in Australia’s annual World Solar Challenge, a 1900 mile race through desert roads between Darwin and Adelaide. It has 75 square feet of silicon photovoltaic cells on its roof and a plug-in electric powertrain with a lithium-ion battery pack. It can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in seven seconds.
EVX Ventures engineered this two-seater to be aerodynamic and have a low mass-to-power ratio. It can reach up to 100 miles per hour using a combination of solar power and its battery, and it can reach up to 50 miles per hour on solar power alone.
According to EVX co-founder and CEO Barry Nguyen, so long as the car does not exceed a speed of 37 miles per hour, it can actually run perpetually on solar power.
Nguyen brought the Immortus to SEMA partly because he was hoping to plant seeds in terms of commercializing aspects of the vehicle as a hybrid-electric conversion kit for gasoline-powered cars and trucks.
“We see the solar cells as a range extender technology in everyday driving, rather than the solar cells capturing more energy than it consumes for practical use,” he explained. “However, uniquely, the range is infinite when there is consistent sunshine cruising at 60 km/h.”