Toyota is making waves by testing solar power on its Prius model. But at the end of the day, it will still be a hybrid car with a gas engine. Two European startups, however, are looking to begin producing electric cars supplemented with solar energy in two years.
It’s an interesting concept: leave your car outside when it’s sunny, and the next day it has enough juice for a short commute — all free, courtesy of Mother Nature. After all, Americans on average drive about 30 miles a day, so much of our daily driving could be done without turning to even a plug-in battery. And solar power is even more environmentally friendly than battery power.
Of course, there’s always the risk of delays with such cutting-edge technology. That said, here’s what could be available in a few years:
Sion, from German startup Sono Motors GmbH, is a solar-boosted electric car that can be powered both via conventional electric grid and the electricity generated by solar cells. Solar panels are discretely built into the car chassis; although visible, they contribute to the look, rather than hamper it.
The design calls for 248 solar cells that can generate up to 1.2 kilowatts a day, which translates into 34 kilometers (21 miles) of range. When its battery is fully juiced, Sion’s 35kWh battery can last for 250 km (155 miles), and it can reach 140 km/h (87 mph).