Will a Solar Car Finally Hit U.S. Streets in 2016?

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Most solar cars only have room for one . . .

With our country’s growing awareness of our environment’s sensitivity, it’s no wonder that solar energy has been skyrocketing in popularity. Harnessing solar power makes sense, as our sun is a constant source of energy, unlike our other natural resources that risk depletion, such as fossil fuels. With this mindset, it would seem as solar cars would become a popular trendhere in the U.S. Unfortunately, no manufacturer has yet to create a viable solar family car.

Solar technology is challenging. The number of solar panels required to power a solar car inevitably creates a top-heavy vehicle that won’t pass even a basic crash test. In addition, the interior of these solar powered cars can become hot enough to endanger to the driver. Cloudy days make storage batteries unavoidable, but so far these batteries have caused the average solar car to weight too much for solar power to move it.

These setbacks haven’t stopped auto manufacturers from trying to develop the perfect solar powered car, however. In Australia, there has been a World Solar Challenge competition held every year since 1987. There, engineering schools and private companies enter their versions of the solar cars. Generally, the cars entered only have room for a driver, and no passengers, because the solar panels inevitably take up so much room.

Can “The Immortus” Be the First Widely Available Solar Car?
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The tide may be turning, though. At the 2015 SEMA Auto Show, the largest auto show in the world, Australian manufacturer EVX, debuted its solar sedan, called “Immortus” for its ability to run forever. The sportscar not only allows two persons to ride comfortably (along with two, small carry-on bags) it provides solar energy storage. In order to avoid the tough regulations of the crash-test requirements in most countries, the Immortus won’t be mass-produced, but rather, built per order in 2016.

Up until now, the only other commercial vehicle that has been running on solar power is one produced by Organic Transit, called “ELF” (Electric, Light and Fun). This 3-wheeled bicycle/auto hybrid combines solar power with human pedaling, and can reach speeds of about 30 mph. So far, around 500 of these models have already been purchased, and although they are not safe enough for highway use, they are still legal anywhere else that bicycles can be used.

It will be interesting to see where the future of solar powered cars will take us. With our country’s ingenuity and creativeness, it’s only a matter of time before solar powered cars will soon become the norm. Maybe 2016 will be the year it finally happens … we’ll just wait and see.

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