Experts are predicting that 2011 is going to be the year of the electric car. Several auto manufacturers are releasing new 100% electric or plug-in electric hybrid models this year. Many new concept cars will soon be driving major highways in the next few years, as well.
All this means that solar-powered electric cars are on the horizon.
Currently, several green cars offer solar panel options for consumers. The Toyota Prius (not an electric car yet) is a traditional hybrid that can be outfitted with PV cells on its roof to offset battery drain running the air conditioning. It can help boost mileage too! The new 100% electric Nissan LEAF also has a solar panel option, which 70% of its buyers are choosing. Like the Prius, the solar panels will help power internal operations of the automobile, though will not actually recharge the battery.
But, solar powered cars that run on 100% renewable solar energy are still in the future:
The primary reasons we do not yet see cars that are covered in solar panels driving around is that too many panels would be required to completely power the vehicle, and the cost would be prohibitive for most consumers.
A solar electric car has been developed. The experimental Swiss “Solartaxi,” was developed to circle the globe and powered entirely by energy generated by solar panels. However, the vehicle required a solar array on a trailer that was nearly as big as the Solartaxi itself!
For now, if you want a solar-powered electric car, your best bet is to purchase an electric car. Then, instead of plugging it into the grid, install solar panels on your garage, or recharge at one of a solar park and ride facilities or solar powered garages like the ones shown below.