Solar panels are becoming a fairly mainstream way to power your Santa Clarita home. Electric vehicles are also becoming rather commonplace in our community. But what happens when you combine the ideas of the solar panel and the electric vehicle? What happens when you try to build a solar-powered car?
Here’s an example (pictured below) of a fairly recent solar-powered car prototype. As you can see, the car is short, slim and not very practical. Of course, all solar-powered cars are currently concept cars—vehicles created to present new body shapes and designs along with new vehicular technology.
This particular concept car is the 2006 Astrolab. Built by Venturi, the prototype features two seats, “high efficiency solar cells” and boasts a range of 110 kilometers (2).
The Astrolab is certainly one of the most visually appealing solar-powered cars introduced before this year. But it's hard to imagine many Santa Claritans will be running out to buy a car with no trunk space or leg room simply for the love of solar. Luckily, strides are being made every day toward creating a functional and fashionable solar-powered car that will fit the average SCV citizen’s needs.
Just last weekend, the students of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore unveiled their contribution to sun-powered car creation. They call it the NV8 and it’s pretty impressive. Unlike many of its predecessors, this solar car actually looks consumer-friendly and, if built to a slightly larger scale, totally drive-able.
The creators of this concept vehicle (pictured above) utilized a lot of new and innovative techniques to build the NV8. Two teams of 16 students at the university built each of the car’s individual solar cells by hand. Their creation is composed of “an array of honeycomb shapes on the car’s inside surface”, keeping the structure light and strong. And, almost all of the NV8’s parts were printed on a 3D printer. According to CleanTechnica, the car “is set to race in the Urban Concept category at this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Asia” (1).
With its top speed at 37 mph, the NV8 is clearly far from being available for purchase. But, it does have many important implications—the most important being that a mass-produced, solar-powered car is on its way to SCV and picking up speed.