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Electric Vehicles

Are Solar Powered Cars The Future?

December 8, 2023
x min read

Electric vehicles are hardly a new concept. But could solar powered cars be a possibility for the future?

What’s happening:

  • A team of Dutch students recently successfully completed a 1,000 kilometre journey through a North African desert in a solar powered vehicle
  • The Eindhoven University of Technology students built a two seat prototype vehicle that is powered entirely by solar energy and is able to successfully navigate difficult terrain

How it works:

  • The prototype, which is known as Stella Terra, uses sloped solar panels on the roof of the car in order to draw in sunlight that is then capable of being converted to power to charge the electric battery inside the vehicle

By the numbers:

  • The Stella Terra has a top speed of 145 kilometres per hour and weighs only 1200 kilograms
  • Provided there is ample sunlight, its full range is 630 kilometres
  • The car’s bespoke converter proved to be 97% efficient in turning sunlight captured by the solar panels into an electrical charge

The intrigue:

  • Every mechanical part of the car is completely custom made, due to needing to be both light weight enough and energy efficient enough to operate entirely off of solar energy

The fine print:

  • There have been many outspoken skeptics about solar powered cars being a true possibility, including Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) founder Elon Musk
  • The limited surface area available to install solar panels on the roof of automobiles is a large constraint and highly efficient solar panels are extremely expensive to manufacture
  • Solar powered car startup Atlas Technologies recently went bankrupt after an inability to land enough pre orders for their $500K USD solar vehicles

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