A fully solar-powered car may be hitting the road by 2019
Jan 10, 2018
<h5>Solar-powered cars have been thought of by many as an impossible pipedream. But the innovators behind Lightyear One, a fully solar-powered vehicle to be released in 2019, just won an award for their design.<br/></h5>
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<p>FUTURISM -- <a href="https://www.lightyear.one/i-want-one/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lightyear One</a><span style="float: none;">, a car whose ability to use solar power has been thought of as an impossible feat, just won </span><a href="https://www.ces.tech/Eureka-Park-Climate-Change-Innovator-Awards" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a Climate Change Innovator Award</a><span style="float: none;">. Designed by the Dutch startup Lightyear, the “car that charges itself” can supposedly drive for months without charging and has a 400 – 800 km range. But is a solar-powered car feasible?</span></p><p></p><p><br/></p><p>For years, the concept of “solar-powered cars” has loomed over the electric car industry as a hopeful, possible future. But there are many who argue that this concept is not only impractical, it is basically impossible. For instance, a solar roof that was designed to power the Toyota Prius was found to only be useful in combination with a traditional battery charging system and it only added an additional 4 miles to the range — not that impressive. </p><p><br/></p><p><a href="https://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID/14433/Your-Next-Car-Will-NOT-Be-Solar-Powered.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">One engineer even calculated the power capacity of a car with a solar roof</a> under the optimal amount of solar radiation, and the results are underwhelming. Engineers measure the rate at which an engine’s work is done in “horsepower” (hp): the car equipped with a solar roof had a horsepower rate of 6.4. For comparison, <a href="https://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID/14433/Your-Next-Car-Will-NOT-Be-Solar-Powered.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">engineer Tom Lombardo said</a>, “my riding lawnmower has an 18 hp engine.”</p><p><b><br/>
<br/></b></p><p><b>GOING FULLY SOLAR</b></p><p>The first 10 Lightyear One cars are due to be released in 2019. Up until now fully solar-powered cars were not considered a realistic prospect, Solar Assisted Electric Vehicles (SAEVs) were considered the best possible option for solar cars,<a href="https://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID/10402/Net-Positive-Solar-EV-Goes-600-Miles-on-a-Charge-and-Carries-Four-Passengers.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> adding up to hundreds of miles to a car’s range</a>, are set on releasing a vehicle that uses only solar power. But the Dutch Lightyear promises to topple the canon with a car that is not only fully powered by the sun, but also overcomes some of the conventional challenges associated with the technology, such as intermittency and low performance.</p><p><br/></p><p>The five entrepreneurs have been prototyping and working out the kinks of their concept for years but, as long as the project remains an early-stage design, it is difficult to imagine that anyone would be capable of bridging the gap between SAEVs and fully-solar vehicles with record-breaking range.</p><p><br/></p><p>But small encouraging signs are emerging all over the world. For example, in 2017, <a href="https://futurism.com/worlds-first-fully-solar-powered-train-left-station/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the Byron Bay Railroad Company created the first fully solar-powered train</a>. And, while the vehicle has a very limited range, it shows that solar-powered vehicles are within the realm of possibility.</p><p><br/></p><h5>Thank you to our friends at <i>Futurism</i> for providing the original article below:</h5><p></p>
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