Future Solar Cars
Future solar cars will solve many of our transportation and environmental
problems. Forget battery electric vehicles and hydrogen cars which
will be transitional technology. Future solar cars will one day
To understand the future of solar cars let's first take a short
journey into the past. The first solar car was invented by William
G. Cobb of General Motors in 1955 and it was a tiny little version
of an automobile at that.
Since this time solar cars have not developed as quickly as other
kinds of automobiles. For instance, hydrogen fuel cell cars were
introduced in the mid 1960's and now some of these H2 cars are
in limited production status.
For the solar car it's been a more grueling race to the mainstream.
Venues such as the World Solar Challenge or the North American
Solar Challenge have been testing these vehicles for endurance
and speed but they are still not up to par with consumer standards.
The Venturi Astrolab solar-electric hybrid vehicle was introduced
back in 2006, as the first commercially available photovoltaic
car that could travel around 74 mph with a range of about 68 miles
(pictured). As you can see most of the top of the vehicle is covered
with solar cells.
But, Venturi Astrolab will end up in a museum, perhaps in France
or Smithsonian if they will have it. Future solar cars will not
have to have wall-to-wall solar panels in order to work (they
won't be well-to-wheel cars either as are fossil fuel burners).
No, the solar cars of the future will have small solar panels
on the hood, roof and trunk area. Because of nanotechnology and
breakthroughs in solar and energy storage technology, photovoltaic
will be miniaturized without giving up power.
Now, in the future just as right now, solar panels won't work
well at night. This is why breakthroughs in either battery technology
or fuel cell technology will also need to happen concurrently
in order to store the photovoltaic energy accumulated in the day
to be used for night cruising.
Exciting technology is happening right now with zinc that may
just replace platinum in fuel cells and lithium in batteries.
Future solar cars will have downsized solar panels as well as
downsized storage devices plus plenty of legroom.
Gone will be the days of name-calling over those who drive SUVs
versus those who drive subcompact cars for the good of the environment.
All sizes, shapea and configurations of solar cars will be available
in the future.
In fact, when ground-bound solar cars are being perfected, prototype
solar flying cars will be being tested. Light solar-powered aircraft
will also not be far off. Solar-powered fishing boats and other
small craft will also grace the waters.
Not everyone will be around to see how the technology plays out
in the years to come. But, be assured that solar cars are not
going away, and in fact, may take over as the vehicles of choice
in the future.
Written by Kevin Lepton