DIY Experimenters Still Making Progress On Solar Cars

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With home/rooftop solar, a growing number of EV drivers are doing most of their driving on home-generated solar power. Solar panels mounted on vehicles themselves, on the other hand, have been the subject of well-deserved skepticism. But is this skepticism still well deserved in 2020? Photo provided by James at While directly powering a vehicle’s electric motor with on-vehicle panels is still pretty far out of the question (outside of very impractical experimental cars ), using relatively low-power solar cells to charge a battery shows a lot more promise. Universities and companies with fairly deep pockets have been experimenting with battery-solar vehicles for decades, with some fairly good progress recently . For example, Toyota has a Prius Prime prototype that adds 27 miles of driving range per day in good conditions, while Sono Motors estimates its cars can add 19 miles of range per day with typical German solar conditions. 15-30 miles of range isn’t enough for onboard solar to be a car’s only power source, but it can cover most of the average driver’s needs while leaving the rest to grid charging or home solar. On the other hand, on-vehicle solar panels have to make financial sense […]

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