The evolution of travel has come a lot way since horse carriages. That being said we are still moving with forward momentum. Gas and diesel cars were the ultimate breakthrough that humans were waiting for but now we are working to move past combustion engine and into the future of transportation. Will the next big thing turn out to be the solar-powered cars?
Similar to other solar-powered applications, solar-powered cars are powered by harnessing the sun’s energy. This energy is converted into electricity that charges the car’s battery so it can power the motor.
How Do Solar-Powered Cars Work?
Solar-powered cars rely on PVC or photovoltaic cells. PVCs are the part of solar panel technology that is responsible for converting the sun’s energy into electricity. Semiconductors – materials that exhibit properties of both insulators and conductors – are used to manufacture PVCs. They are composed of silicon and absorb the sunlight. This energy from the sunlight liberates electrons of the semiconductors, triggering electrons’ flow. This is the flow that ultimately produces the electricity that goes on to power up an electric motor or battery in solar-powered cars.
Evolution of Solar-Powered Cars
Solar-powered cars are older than you might have thought. Many car enthusiasts have been independently designing their own versions for quite some time. In 1977, Ed Passerini created his own solar-powered car he called Bluebird. In 1982, Larry Perkins successfully drove his version of the solar-powered car, the Quiet Achiever. Soon, both of them were credited as the first individuals to create solar-powered vehicles.
Commercial interest soon widened in the solar industry as brands like Mazda and Ford came up with solar-hybrid cars. For example, the 2005 Mazda Senku installed solar panels on the top of its roof that assisted in charging the battery. Similarly, the 2006 Ford Reflex featured headlights that had installed solar panels. Meanwhile, the 2008 Cadillac Provoq came up with solar panels for powering its audio system, interior lights, and other power accessories.
Although Senku, Provoq, and Reflex are just concept models, it is expected that cars with solar panels can make deep inroads into the consumer automotive industry.
Venturi, a French automobile company, became viral when they launched the prototype of their solar-powered car: the Eclectic. Eclectic uses battery, wind, and solar power to support a three-passenger car. The roof is covered by the solar panels while a wind turbine is used to collect energy on windy days. However, the Venturi Eclectic can’t run on highways because it is a slow car, with its top milage rounding out at 30 miles per hour.