In today’s world, it’s common knowledge that fossil fuels are a quickly diminishing resource. It’s only a matter of time before we will be forced to ditch our gasoline reliant cars for other options. Although a popular alternative is to go electric, there are several downsides that make it less alluring. A promising future for the automotive industry actually lies in solar power. After all, there’s unlimited sunlight and it’s free for the taking! Today, we’ll be exploring some of the lesser-known facts about solar-powered cars. Keep reading to learn a ton of fun and useful information about the (most likely) inevitable future for transportation!
10 Solar Cars Weigh Less Than Normal Cars.
Up to six times less, in fact! Solar cars are designed to depend solely on the sun for energy, which means that they must be extremely efficient in using the difficult to obtain power. Obviously, it takes much more energy to move a 4000-pound car than a lighter one, so all solar-powered vehicles must be designed to be lightweight yet still safe. The prime candidate for future release, Lightyear One, weighs about 2800 pounds, but solar cars used for racing weigh much, much less. In order to detract weight, solar cars are made from lighter materials and unnecessary components are removed.
9 The Toyota Prius Has Started Incorporating Some Solar Power
Although fully solar-powered cars haven’t been released, several car brands have been experimenting with the idea. The Toyota Prius is amongst the favored, featuring a solar-panel sun-roof that collects and stores the sun’s energy even as you drive the car on gasoline. While the solar panel doesn’t actually help drive the engine, it’s the source of the car’s ventilation system! All that stored energy is transferred into your car’s fan and air conditioning systems, which help you save big on your gasoline bill. In the future, Toyota plans to incorporate more aspects of solar power into their vehicles for an environmentally friendly experience!
8 Solar Cars Can Be Driven At Night
You might be wondering what happens on a rainy day, or if you need to pull up to a party at night. Not to worry, solar cars essentially have a rechargeable power bank and will have the ability to store enough energy within its battery for you to drive your vehicle in such situations. The car currently in development is projected to accumulate about 31 miles of energy in a four-hour drive, so should be able to get to where you need to go at night easily. However, extremely long distances at night (or in the rain) cannot be achieved quite yet, so save those late-night road trips for the future!
7 Solar Cars Will Need Very Little Maintenance Comparatively
Although every car in the perceivable future will be a victim to frequent brake checks, filter changes, and air conditioning replacements, solar cars will need very little maintenance in comparison to its gas-reliant cousins. Since there aren’t any moving parts on solar panels, they simply need to be checked for dust and debris a few times a year. The battery and engine will be easier to handle as well, and the main thing that you need to focus on is simply monitoring the health of your battery. Skip the oil changes, fan belts, air filters, and spark plugs as well! A solar-powered car will be easy and pleasant to maintain. (as long as you don’t wreck them!)
6 Solar Cars Will Still Have Options To Charge Electronically
Although a car that relies completely on solar power sounds nice, our current technology still does not allow for such a miracle. The battery and panels available simply can’t soak up energy quick enough for certain circumstances that are bound to pop up. For example, you might be forced to drive extremely long distances at night, which simply can’t be achieved purely with sunlight just yet. Therefore, the solar cars under development currently will all have a charging option. They’re essentially electric cars that use solar power to charge most of the time with a handy backup manual charging plan. With one night’s charge, a solar car is projected to have over 400 miles of range!
5 Solar Cars Will Start Out Pretty Costly, But Not Uunreasonably So
Sadly, solar cars aren’t going to be as affordable as some of their gas-reliant buddies for a while. Due to the fact that the materials are usually more expensive, solar cars are projected to start out at around $100,000. While the price can’t be categorized as affordable by any means, it’s not unreasonable, either. Remember that you’ll be stepping away from the rather expensive fuel industry after the purchase. In the long term, you’ll be saving more money from lack of gasoline and maintenance fees in comparison. Furthermore, plenty of luxury cars such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche cost much more with fewer environmental benefits.
4 The Design Is Limited Currently Due To Energy
The word “limited” may not be the most accurate, as most car enthusiasts love the low to the ground sporty look, which is exactly what solar cars will have to start out as. Due to the fact that solar panel design hasn’t reached the maximum level of energy conversion, solar cars must be designed to conserve as much of it as possible. This means that air resistance, friction, and other elements will have to be heavily considered in the design. Furthermore, the car would have to be slick, smooth, and relatively flat in order to make the panels as efficient as possible. While the future holds all sorts of possibilities, we’ll definitely be enjoying the sporty look while it lasts.
3 One Solar-Powered Car Was Made From Pineapples!
Although it sounds bizarre, a group of students from Bochum University in Germany has managed to create a working prototype of a solar-car made from fibers of pineapple leaves! Parts of the car’s frame, as well as paneling, is created from a very strong fiber derived from the leaves of this tropical fruit. The reasoning behind the choice is simple: to make the solar car even more environmentally friendly! Not only does the car utilize pineapple leaves that would have otherwise been disposed of, but it also conserved other resources such as metal and plastic. While commercial cars have not taken this route (yet), there’s definitely potential in pineapple cars!
2 There Are Solar Car Races
Just like NASCAR racing, there are races consisting of only solar-powered vehicles! None of these vehicles are technically considered safe for consumer use and remain to be just a form of competition and entertainment. Some of these cars look extremely silly, resembling a simple solar panel board with space for the driver’s head to pop out of, while others are closer to road cars. There are solar challenges both nationally and worldwide, with tons of engineering teams vying for the championship. Some cars have been known to reach a speed of over 60 miles, which is very impressive in solar racecar developments.
1 First Consumer Car Is Said To Be Available In 2021
That’s right, we just have a little over a year to wait for the first-ever solar car to be released on U.S. markets! The Lightyear One is a sleek, futuristic car with a sporty finish and an interior that packs a punch. It’s said to have a range of 450 miles on a full charge with panels covering the roof and the hood. Safety glass is layered on top of the panels, protecting them from any potential damage from the elements. The Lightyear One will have a starting price of around $120,000, which is comparable to many popular luxury sports cars with a much friendlier environmental footprint.