Jul 3, 2013
Elizabeth Puckett
Comments Off on Solar Cars Edging Closer to the Market With a More ‘Normal’ Looking Design

Solar Cars Edging Closer to the Market With a More ‘Normal’ Looking Design

There’s a lot of things going on with solar-powered vehicles that make them look out of this world; their body paneling is what harvests energy and it has to lie a certain way to be effective. Most would say that solar vehicles look like flying saucers from a 1950s B-movie. The newest generation of engineers want to change that exterior design in order to push solar cars one step closer to the public marketplace. Engineers who design and develop the more normal-looking platforms call these project cars ‘cruisers’. These cruisers are said to look more like mid-sized sedans than alien aircraft. The cruiser has been described as being a two-door coupe with a large rear hatchback—it also has twice as much storage space as a Honda Civic.

The unveiling of more traditional looking solar cruisers is set to happen during the 2013 World Solar Challenge in Australia, scheduled this year on October 6th-13th. This event will also test the endurance of new cruisers, a great way to help design teams further tweak models to get them closer to the consumers.The ultimate goal of solar vehicle engineers is to develop a car that will be street legal in all countries. Most experts admit that the reality of a street-legal solar car is probably decades away.

While the interest in solar cars is rising among drivers around the world, it’s not likely that any mass produced models will be made anytime soon. The next set of challenges include better ways to capture energy, longer range of use, and the design of more efficient solar paneling.

Many people remain exceedingly skeptical about the realization of a widely available selection of solar cars for the average person. There is one major challenge that has yet to be addressed, and that’s how to get the oil industry on-board with the idea of not making trillions of dollars from gasoline-powered vehicles. After all, sunlight is free, for now. This is one of many reasons major auto makers are standoffish about developing their own solar technology for future models.

A more foreseeable use for solar energy on cars is likely to be more solar paneling on current models. The Nissan Leaf is an EV with a solar panel on the spoiler to help charge the battery that runs accessories in the car. It’s likely that we’ll start seeing more options like that instead of a full solar-powered car from any major manufacturer in the near future.

Source : CBC News