As time goes by, vehicles and cars have gone through a lot of development and upgrades. We’ve seen cars that run with gasoline. After some breakthroughs, there are cars powered by batteries. Now, we are entering the era of solar powered cars! These vehicles will be able to draw power from sunlight. They contained several solar cells and rechargeable batteries that can store sunlight to generate power.
Although popular, solar cars haven’t been the number one choice. They still fall far behind from the conventional and battery-charged cars. There is a limited quantity of the item itself. However, there’s no denying that the trend will only be moving forward and getting bigger, especially when it is really sustainable and plays a part in saving the planet. But before you’re getting amped up and thinking about purchasing a solar car, let’s take a look at some of the best solar powered cars facts first!
1. The Man Responsible for the First Solar Powered Car
We know that the Batmobile is cool. But you know what is even cooler? Yes, it is the Sunmobile! As the name suggests, the Sunmobile is a 38 cm car that can be powered with solar energy. In fact, it is the first car to have achieved the feat, and William Cobb should be credited as the man responsible behind this awesome achievement.
In 1955, during an auto show held in Chicago, Cobb introduced the photovoltaic system into the world of automotive industry. Unfortunately, the Sunmobile is too small to drive. However, it is truly magnificent to learn that the blueprint for current solar powered cars can be traced back to decades ago.
2. The 1912 Baker Electric Became the First Solar Powered Life-sized Car
After William Cobb surprised the world with the awesome Sunmobile, it didn’t take too long for people to start developing this technology into a much more useful application. Just five years after the Sunmobile, Charles Escoffery was able to fit a solar panel into the classic 1912 Baker Electric car. With the added solar panel, the car was able to run for three hours while maintaining a speed of 20 mph. At that time, the solar panel cost $20,000, which amounts to roughly $162,000 in today’s market!
3. The Smallest Solar Powered Car
We have mentioned before that the Sunmobile was made as a prototype vehicle that can’t be driven by a real person. However, it is really interesting to know that there are even smaller solar cars out there. You can even make one from your home using simple materials like solar panels, DC motors, bottle caps, popsicle sticks, and others. However, the title for the world’s smallest solar powered car should go to Lily’s Home adorable car!
This car is so small that you can even hold it in your hand. It also weighs only 5 grams. When it is exposed to sunlight or bright artificial light, the car will move forward! You can even buy this coin-sized car from various marketplaces like eBay and Amazon.
4. Do Solar Powered Cars Really Help Saving the Environment?
We know that the use of gasoline isn’t sustainable. That’s the reason why people are turning their attention towards cool alternatives like batteries and solar. But the question still remains: do solar powered cars really help to save the environment? The answer to that is yes!
Apart from preserving natural resources like fuel and oil, electric cars won’t cause any emissions. Consequently, it also reduces air pollution and greenhouse gases. Having solar powered vehicles can also potentially save cost, as it will require less money to do some maintenance.
5. Solar Powered Cars Are Not Available Commercially
With all the hype for solar powered vehicles, it is really hard to believe that there aren’t any solar powered cars available for commercial purposes. But that’s the harsh reality, and actually it can be backed with several understandable reasons as well. The primary reason is the high cost for producing and maintenance of such vehicles. One solar car can be sold at a minimum price of 150,000 euro. It’s definitely more than what most people would be willing to pay.
There are other reasons too. Putting solar panels in a car can take up a lot of space. Besides that, concerns regarding the distance that a solar car can travel is a major problem, as well as the top speed of said vehicle.
6. Bridgestone World Solar Powered Races
Even without owning a solar powered car, we can still enjoy them at various race events. In fact, there are a lot of cool solar powered car races out there. But out of all the exciting competitions, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is the most well-known solar car race. It is held every two years, with the exception of a four-year gap between 2019 to 2023 (due to the 2021 cancellation).
At this awesome event, participants from universities and enterprises will try to promote their solar powered cars by crossing the finish line. The race will be done in Australia, covering 3021 kilometers through the Australian Outback.
7. Bridgestone Solar Challenge is Cool, But It isn’t the First Solar Race Ever
The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge has done a huge favor in helping to promote solar powered cars to the whole world. However, it is not the first event to do that. In fact, a group of people in the Swiss Solar Association (SSES) organized a racing event back in 1985, and it is considered as the first solar race ever. Enter: Tour de Sol.
The first solar race was led into five stages from Romanshorn to Geneva. Out of a total 73 cars participating, 50 managed to complete the course. The event was a massive success, and it was held annually until 1993.
8. The First Ever Driver to Pass Across a Continent with a Solar Powered Car
Although there have been many experiments regarding solar powered cars since the late 1950s and early 1960s, they can’t figure out a way to make solar powered cars cover a lot of distance. That fate changed in 1983, when a driver named Hans Tholstrup used “The Quiet Achiever” to drive across a continent using nothing more than solar energy. He departed from Perth’s Scarborough Beach and arrived at the Sydney Opera House.
9. We Can See Commercial Solar Powered Cars Soon!
As of March 2022, there are no expected launches of commercial solar powered cars. But that soon can change, because Sono Motors is preparing to be one of the first manufacturers to do a mass production for solar powered cars. Their first car will be named Sion, and it is said that it can get you to your destination with low cost maintenance.
The Sion will be powered with 248 power cells so that the car can cover a lot more distance. If you take 35 minutes to charge at a fast charging station, you’ll fill up 80% of the battery capacity. If you’re interested in owning a Sion car, you can preorder it now on their website. The estimated launch of the product will be around late next year.
10. This is the World’s Fastest Solar Car
Solar racing is becoming a trend that people love. It would come as no surprise when there are a lot of fast solar powered cars. Currently, the title for the world’s fastest solar car goes to the amazing Sky Ace TIGA. Previously, the record was held by the equally-awesome Sunswift IV.
Sky Ace TIGA set the fastest record on 20 August 2014 at the Shimojishima Airport in Okinawa, Japan. Back then, it was able to run at a speed of 91.332 km/h. It is really exciting to see the potential of solar powered cars. Here’s to hoping that there will be other cool solar cars that can run even faster in the future.
11. There is a Road in China That Can Charge Cars While They Drive
Sometimes, the concern of having electric or solar powered cars is based around the availability of power stations to charge their energy. Charging the battery itself can even take a long time. However, China tries to solve that problem by making a road that can wirelessly charge cars using the power of the sun. It can be found just outside of Jinan.
This road is lined with solar panels and sensors to detect incoming cars. Moving forwards, China is going to be updating their technologies to create a more enhanced “smart road”. It’s pretty exciting, huh?
12. There is a Solar Powered Car That was Made from Pineapples
This is a really awesome achievement! The feat was made by a group of students from the Bochum University in Germany. This awesome solar car was dubbed the Blue Cruiser. It is a four-seater with a unique design and attractive body. But the most amazing aspect is the implementation of pineapple. In fact, the seats of the car were entirely made out of carbon fiber and vegan pineapple leather. It certainly is a noble effort as it also promotes sustainability!