Solar Powered Cars?

Fisker solar powered car

The idea behind ‘Green Transportation’ is to move about the earth without harming it. Or at least reduce the environmental impact of a particular vehicle. Each year countless gallons of oil are pumped from the bowels of our planet. After being refined, that oil is then pumped into the tanks of our cars, and burned to facilitate our motion.

200 years ago, traveling across the country would’ve taken months, if not years. You would’ve encountered numerous perils, and death could’ve been waiting for you to arrive. Personal mobility depended on your feet, and your survival skills. If you were wealthy enough to afford a horse, your journey would’ve been easier. But death could’ve befallen Mr. Ed just as easily.

So consider yourself lucky. You probably won’t die of gangrene on the way to see grandma this year. However, every action has a reaction. And our planet now endures the peril of your journey.ou would’ve encountered numerous perils, and death could’ve been waiting for you to arrive. Personal mobility depended on your feet, and your survival skills. If you were wealthy enough to afford a horse, your journey would’ve been easier. But death could’ve befallen Mr. Ed just as easily.

With every combustion cycle, your engine pumps lethal fumes into the atmosphere. Just because you can’t see the effects (unless of course you live near L.A.), there is damage being done. Now I’m not suggesting that Al Gore was right, and “the sky is falling!”. But the fact remains, burning fossil fuel is slowly causing problems that earthlings will have to deal with 200 years from now.

Related: Saving the planet with diesel

The responsible thing to do is use renewable resources to facilitate transportation. Biodiesel / Biofuels are a fantastic start. But their production can cut into food-stocks, and let’s face it, Big Oil is greedy. So the economical mass production of biofuels will probably never happen in our lifetime (and burning biofuel does still create pollution).

solar powered car

One blatantly obvious renewable energy source is the sun. It’s always there, and solar-generated energy has certainly gained traction in the last 20 years. But will solar-powered cars ever see the light of day? (couldn’t resist) The short answer is no. At least, not in our lifetime.

The problem has to do with economics and scale. From a manufacturing standpoint, solar is still extremely expensive to produce. And the vehicles that consumers demand, are way too heavy to be entirely powered by modern solar cells.

Car companies like Fisker and Nissan offer rooftop solar panels that can power the car’s ventilation system, and exterior lights. But that’s as far as this technology is likely to go anytime soon. You can however, charge your electric vehicle with solar panels, creating an indirectly solar-powered vehicle.

Modern EVs are probably the most logical transportation devices on the planet. Their drive systems are simple, and require almost no maintenance. Just replace the tires, and buy new batteries every 100k miles ($2-4k). And they create absolutely no emissions. Nada, zero, zilch. So charging one with a solar EV charging system will remove that stigma of it being ‘powered by coal’ (i.e. the power plant).

From an environmental standpoint, a solar-charged EV is the most karma-friendly way to move about. But from an economic standpoint…you’ve gotta drive a lot of miles to recover the initial cost.

Solar EV charging systems cost $10,000+. And that’s on top of the $35-40k price of an EV. The only way to make a solar-powered EV economically feasible is to install a large enough solar system to power your house and your car. That way, you’re ‘saving back’ your utility bill, your gas bill, and your car maintenance bill.

Related: Which car costs less in the long run, Gas, Hybrid, or EV?

If you’re intent on driving a solar-powered car before you die, this is probably the only way that you’re going to do it.

Photo Credit: Beezum88

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