With the increased interest in renewable and sustainable energy systems, and of course, electric-powered vehicles, solar-powered cars have come to the fore. Many automobile companies are working towards making solar-powered vehicles.
Solar-powered vehicles are electric vehicles that use photovoltaic cells to convert energy from sunlight into electricity. These vehicles can store some solar energy in batteries to allow them to run smoothly at night or in the absence of direct sunlight. If used on a large scale, solar-powered vehicles not only help with environmental pollution but also noise pollution.
Many prototypes of solar-powered cars are currently in development, and some are even produced.
Both large and small automakers are involved in developing hybrid solar cars. According to estimates, the solar vehicle market could reach $689 billion by 2027. Automobile companies are already working on ways to capitalize on the idea with interim technology, such as solar roof panels for charging batteries and internal systems.
Here are the eight electric vehicles with solar roofs, that are able to charge themselves while on the way.
Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX
The iconic German automaker debuted the Vision EQXX in January at Consumer Electronics Show (CES), having teased the luxury electric vehicle (EV) several times in recent months. The electric concept sedan boasts a range of 620 miles (1,000 km).
Mercedes already has a luxury EV sedan on the verge of entering the market, the 441-mile-range EQS. With the EQXX, it promises to go further, achieving a drag coefficient of 0.17 compared to the EQS’s 0.20.
One of the standout features of Mercedes’s new luxury EV concept is its 117-cell solar panel roof, which charges ancillary systems in the car, allowing for extra range. The solar roof was developed as part of a collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. According to Mercedes, on a day with ideal conditions, the solar roofing can add up to 15 miles (25 km) of range. As per Mercedes’s statement, this, as well as the battery innovations and aerodynamic design, make the EQXX “the most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built.”
The U.S.-based electric carmaker Fisker’s Ocean SUV has an option for a solar roof with the Extreme model. Impressively, it can roll back simultaneously with every window via the car’s California mode. While global window opening isn’t unique to the Ocean SUV, we can’t think of another company that has implemented it at this scale.
The standard Ocean model will start at a price of $37,499. It will come with front-wheel drive, have a range of 250 miles (402 km), and produce 275 horsepower.
The $49,999 Ocean Ultra produces up to 540 horsepower, goes from zero to 60 mph (100 kph) in 3.9 seconds, and has a bigger battery, giving it a range of 340 miles (547 km). The top of the tier, however, is the Ocean Extreme, which has a range of 350 miles (563 km) and will generate 550 horsepower. The Ultra and the Extreme both feature four-wheel drive.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Hyundai joins the solar-powered party with a car geared toward sustainability and futuristic mobility with its new IONIQ 5. The car will be available with two battery sizes and two drivetrains. A 72.6-kWh battery that produces a combined power output of 225-kWh and 605 Nm of torque. Combined with the all-wheel-drive option, the IONIQ 5 can reach top speeds of 115 mph (185 km/h). The two-wheel-drive option, meanwhile, enables the longest range, reaching around 300 miles (480 km), with the largest battery option. Hyundai says the vehicle’s solar panel option can help extend the range up to 1240 miles (2,000km) per year (around 3 miles per day) of additional range if it’s driven in locations that see a healthy amount of sunny days per year.
Aptera’s Sol is a solar-powered three-wheeler EV and a sight for sore eyes.
Driven by the power of the Sun, as Aptera Motors states on its website, the automaker’s new three-wheeler EV will have a range of up to 1,000 miles (1,609 km) with a full charge.
The two-person (and one pet) vehicle boasts a solar panel roof array and can provide up to 45 miles (72 km) of range per day. The vehicles charge with their solar panels in park mode.
The company released a specs sheet, which explains the sEV (solar EV) can go from zero to 60 mph (96 kph) in 3.5 seconds while in all-wheel drive at 150 kW. And it can go from zero to 60 mph (96 kph) in 5.5 seconds in front-wheel drive. It has a top speed of 100 mph (160 kph).
Dutch startup Lightyear recently unveiled a prototype for what they say is the first car capable of taking us long distances while powered only by the Sun.
The company claims that the car has a range of 725 km (WLTP). According to Light Year, their car uses 83 Wh/km (WLTP) and accelerates from 0-60 mph (0-100 kph) in ten seconds.
Aside from its solar power recharging, the car can also be charged at charging stations and at regular outlets. Only with sunlight Light Year One can charge at 12 km/h. With 60 kW fast charging, the car’s efficient charging allows it to charge up to 570 km/h.
The numbers on Lightyear’s website suggest that we aren’t as far as some might think from seeing long-range SEVs. The company claims its first model consumes only 83 Wh/km — three times less than any other EV on the market today. Using the solar panels on its roof, it can currently charge at a rate of 12 km per hour.
The Squad Solar City
The Squad Solar City is not your typical electric vehicle. Firstly, it’s charged by a single solar panel on its roof. Secondly, its makers, Squad Mobility, refer to it as a NEV, a neighborhood electric vehicle.
The name Squad comes from Solar Quadricycle, which neatly reflects the vehicle’s specific design for the shared mobility market. Users need no driving license to drive the car, whose creators have just announced a list of new updates.
The car can reach top speeds of 28 mph (45 kph) or 50 mph (80 kph) depending on the model. A full roll cage with seat belts and 4-wheel stability makes it a safe ride.
Sono Motors Sion
Sion is a hybrid electric vehicle made by German startup Sono Motors that charges itself using solar energy. The 248 solar cells integrated into its body mean it can be completely self-sufficient in driving over short distances.
The car can go up to 155 miles (249 km) on a single charge and adds around 21 miles (33 km) of charge per day via its solar panels.
What’s more, Somo Motors uses 100 percent renewable sources of energy for the car’s components and building process. The car is selling for an estimated price tag of $28,500.
The Thundertruck is an electric off-roader concept with dashing, futuristic features including bat wing-shaped solar panels.
The 800-horsepower Thundertruck EV boasts a 180 kWh battery, a 400-mile (640 km) range, and an 800 lb-ft of torque. What’s more, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The truck comes in two models, 4×4 and 6×6. The company website states that “Our state-of-the-art TT Range Extender easily converts the Thundertruck into a 6WD monster that quietly delivers unparalleled power and performance.”