If you thought electric cars were dominating the roads, think again, solar-powered cars many soon be coming to a road near you.
Solar-powered cars could soon be coming to a road near you. Similar to solar panels, these cars charge up via the energy from the sun. There is immense potential in these cars, that could even far outweigh the environmental benefits of electric vehicles currently on the market.
Electric cars have been increasing in popularity exponentially in recent years. They have long been touted as the more environmentally smart choice. In many ways they are. Unlike gasoline-powered cars, they don’t release any climate change-contributing emissions into the atmosphere. However, they are not without their own fallacies, though. This is where the advent of solar-powered cars comes in.
In terms of the environment, mining for the materials used in the batteries that power electric cars comes with its own environmental impacts. Second, in the United States, electric cars are still largely an impractical choice for many. This is due to multiple factors. They are costly. The charging infrastructure in the United States is basically nonexistent outside of metropolitan areas. And extreme hot and cold temperatures have adverse effects on an electric vehicle’s overall range. This makes them difficult choices for people who live in areas that experience super hot summers and frigid winters. Solar-powered cars would serve to mitigate or negate those shortcomings.
The inherent advantages of solar-powered cars have prompted some automakers to make their own operational concept versions. According to CNET, there are currently 3 solar-powered concept cars that exhibit a lot of potential promise. These cars are the Sono Sion, Lightyear 0, and Aptera. While none of these concept cars operate entirely via solar energy just yet (all three still partially leverage electric charging), they do demonstrate the future potential of such a vehicle.
The Sono Sion is by far the most practical, and perhaps the most conceivable solar-powered car of the three. Coming in with a cost of only $30,000, it puts it in line with most other new cars on the market, at present. Its range is being marketed as 190 total miles on a single solar/electric charge, with 70 to 150 of those miles coming from purely solar energy.
The Lightyear 0 is perhaps the sleekest solar-powered car of the bunch. It’s also the most expensive at $500,000. At that price point, it’s obviously meant for the upper echelons of society. It also boasts an impressive range of 320 miles. That being said, only about 45 miles of that range comes from solar energy.
The Aptera is the most futuristic of the three. It looks like a cross between a car, motorcycle, and pod racer. However, at its upper limit, it can garner about 1,000 miles of range. It is expected to vary in price between $26,000 and $50,000 depending on the options a buyer selects. The one downside is that this solar-powered car only has seating for two people.
Overall, solar-powered cars have a lot of potential, and in many ways can even outweigh of benefits of existing electric cars. That being said, they are still in their infancy. And it remains to be seen whether or not technology like this will be adopted at a time when companies and governments alike are making massive pushes to move toward the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Although, in the event of electric grid failures and blackouts, it could be interesting to see solar charging options become integrated into electric cars as an emergency/alternative feature. Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.