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The Present State of Solar Automobile Technology

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Unfortunately, vehicles that are completely powered by on-board solar panels are a long way from being practical. Such vehicles, in their current form, are typically used to demonstrate the future potential of solar power and as experimental engineering projects. One of the problems preventing vehicles powered by on-board solar panels from becoming practical is the limitations that come with the photovoltaic cells used to convert solar energy to electricity. They require much more space than is provided by standard car designs. Examples of present solar vehicles include the Tokai Challenger from Japan’s Tokai University. The Tokai Challenger is the single-passenger solar car that that won the World Solar Challenge in 2009 and 2011. The roughly six square meters of solar panel and the blade-like design for minimal drag make it unsuitable as a vehicle for the average motorist.