A solar vehicle for use on roadways or racetracks is called a solar car. Electric cars known as solar vehicles run completely or partially on sunlight using self-contained solar cells. In order to regulate and store the energy from the sun cells and via regenerative braking, solar vehicles often use a rechargeable battery. Some solar cars include plug-in features that enable them to utilise extra power sources in addition to sunlight to charge their battery.
Technology for solar cars usually comes from the aerospace, bicycle, alternative energy, and auto industry. Solar cars are always built with energy efficiency in mind in order to get the most out of the sunlight’s limited supply of energy. The majority of solar vehicles have been built with solar car racing in mind. Nevertheless, numerous solar vehicle prototypes designed for usage on public roads have been created.
Across the world, there are multiple solar vehicle competitions that are often entered by school and business teams. The World Solar Challenge, an international competition conducted in Australia, is one of the most renowned contests. The American Solar Challenge and the United Solar Challenge are two additional contests. Only one solar car, the Light year 0, had reached production as of December 2022, although it was being delivered only one per week. The firm ceased producing and marketing cars in January 2023, and Atlas Technologies B.V., the car company’s production company, filed for bankruptcy.
Production for the Apt period is scheduled to start in 2023. Only one solar car, the Light year 0, had reached production as of December 2022, although it was being supplied only one per week. The firm stopped making and selling cars in January 2023, and Atlas Technologies B.V., the car company’s production company, filed for bankruptcy. Production for the Apt era is anticipated to start in 2023.
William G. Cobb, an employee at General Motors, built a tiny 15-inch car that would become the first model solar automobile to be produced. He exhibited it in 1955 at the Chicago Power Engineering convention under the name Sun mobile. It had a tiny electric motor and 12 selenium photovoltaic cells.
The Global Solar Challenge and the American Solar Challenge are two solar car races that involve a range of business and academic competing teams in overland road rally-style events.
A field of competitors from across the world competes in the World Solar Challenge to cross Australia over a distance of 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi). The cars’ speeds have been increasing over time. For instance, because to the participants’ high speeds in the 2005 race, the rules for solar vehicles were altered starting with the 2007 event and lasting until 2014.
The majority of the squads participating in the American Solar Challenge, previously known as the “North American Solar Challenge” and “Sunrays USA,” are collegiate top teams in timed intervals throughout North America. Due to teams violating the set speed limitations, the regulations for this race were changed for the most recent race. From July 6 to July 22, 2018, the most recent American Solar Challenge travelled from Omaha, Nebraska, to Bend, Oregon. An annual race for high school students using solar power is called the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge. Teams from all around the world, primarily from American high schools, join the tournament. The first race was held in 1995. Each event is the ultimate product of a two educational cycle begun by the Winston Solar Car Team. The event is a road course that starts in the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas, on odd-numbered years; the end of the story varies every year. The race is a track race around the Texas Motor Speedway in even-numbered years. Since 2002, Dell has sponsored the event.
This car’s top is coated with solar panels, which provide enough power for the electric engine to run. The South African Solar Challenge is a multiple times, two-week race that crosses the whole nation of South Africa in solar-powered automobiles. Teams must create their own vehicles, develop their own engineering systems, then race those same vehicles across the most challenging terrain solar cars have ever faced. The 2008 race proved that this event can draw in viewers and that it has the necessary FIA backing on a global scale. All participants will set out from Pretoria late in September and travel to Cape Town via the N1, then drive down the coast to Durban before coming to the finish line in Pretoria ten days later. The International Solar Car Federation (ISF), Federation International de l Automobile (FIA), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) all supported the event in 2008, making it the first Solar Race to do so.
A solar-powered family car was developed in 2013. Due to the materials used in the solar panels, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have also developed a solar vehicle that can recharge more quickly.
Hennery, a Chinese maker of solar panels, plans to manufacture and sell lithium-ion rechargeable batteries solar cars in China. According to Hennery, five to six hours of sunlight should be enough for the thin-film solar cells in the cars to generate 8 to 10 kWh of energy each day, enabling the vehicle to drive roughly 80 km (50 mi) on solar power alone. A 350 km maximum range is conceivable (217 mi).
The photovoltaic Light year One, now known as the Light year 0, was revealed in June 2019. Former Tesla and Ferrari engineers developed the solar-panelled car, which has a hood and roof. The car may be charged using both conventional power plugs and fast-charging stations. The company Light Year allegedly collected enough money in September 2021 to start a limited manufacturing run of the car at a cost of €149,000 and deliver the first cars in 2022.
A funding effort for the Apt era, a solar-powered, very efficient “Never Charge” EV with a range of up to 1000 miles, was announced by Apt era Motors in August 2019. The EV was launched on December 4 ,2020 as a result of the funding campaign’s success and the presentation of the Apt era prototype.
The Israeli start-up Apollo-Power and the German manufacturer Audi signed an Agreement in July 2020 for the creation of a plan to incorporate Rocket Power’s lightweight flexible panels into automotive components. The goal of Apollo-Power is to turn every car into a solar vehicle.
Squad Mobility revealed the Squad Solar City Vehicle in 2019; it was finally unveiled to the media in May 2022. The first Solar Micro Car for (sub)urban use is the Squad Solar City Car.
Companies designing solar panel cars
There are a few businesses developing vehicles with built-in solar panels. In contrast to the early days of the Tesla and other electric vehicles, many of these cars are now available for reservation, allowing you to put your name at the head of the list for when they do go on sale. Let’s look at some of the businesses that are developing solar-powered vehicles that may be driving soon.
Hyundai said that they would launch a hybrid Sonata version with built-in solar panels in August 2019. The vehicle can run on fuel, electricity, and power generated by the solar panels on its own roof. Once exclusively launched in South Korea, it is now available in North America, and now receives up to 700 more miles per year from its solar panel roof.
German firm Soon Motors is creating a “car that charges itself.” The Sino solar vehicle will have 330 integrated solar cells throughout, from the roof to the side doors to the back, and production is anticipated to begin in 2023. These integrated cells will extend the range by 10 kilometres (about 19 miles), according to Sino Motors.
A Dutch start up called Light Year has began producing its flagship product, the Light year 0, an electrical and solar hybrid vehicle. Light Year’s solar vehicle has a range of 400 or 800 kilometres, plus whatever additional energy the solar cells built into the car can supply to the battery. According to the company, the Light year 0 will be capable of travelling between 8,000 and 10,000 kilometres a year on solar energy alone. Only the UK, EU, Switzerland, and Norway are accepting new pre-orders for the Light year 0 at this time.
In fact, Toyota sells a photovoltaic vehicle, but it’s currently only accessible in Japan. Panasonic, a Japanese solar panel manufacturer, offers an optional solar panel roof for the Toyota Pries Prime. As according Toyota, the integrated solar cells can increase daily driving range by up to 3.7 miles (while parked). The Pries Prime with a solar roof isn’t currently expected to land in USA any time soon.
Apt era Motors
The firm Apt era Motors is now seeking funding in order to build a three-wheeled solar-powered car that runs entirely on energy generated by its rooftop solar panels, increasing efficiency.
Audi & Volkswagen
Along with Israeli company Apollo Power, VW and Audi are aiming to use the latter’s flexible solar panel technology to power cars. Volkswagen purchased a photovoltaic concept car from Apollo in October 2021, and their cooperation with Audi won the JEC Innovation Award.