Solar Powered Cars Cost
Solar technology is one of the most innovative inventions that has just recently been appreciated globally. Harnessing power from the sun is a cost-efficient and environmental-friendly way to produce energy, and many countries are already rewarding people who chose this method. In addition to providing energy to residential properties, solar energy can now be used to power vehicles.
Solar powered cars are the latest trend in sustainable energy. However, most people think that these sun-powered vehicles are expensive and are still far-fetched. This article will talk about how much solar cars cost and how they work. It will also identify the different vehicle types and where they can be bought.
Purchasing Solar Powered Cars
Are these vehicles a myth? Not really. These cars do exist, although there are not a lot of them. To date, well-known companies that produce solar cars include Toyota, Tesla, BMW, and Hyundai. Toyota boasts its Prius Prime, a solar-incorporated vehicle available exclusively in Japan.
Tesla has the Model S, a $75000 to $100,000 vehicle that only needs to be charged for 30 minutes to provide a 170-mile range and 130-155 top speed. BMW’s i3 is priced at $43,395 and runs on a 92 mpH top speed with a 114-mile battery range.
Hyundai produced the Sonata Hybrid, a model available in South Korea but soon to be released in the US. Indeed, there isn’t a solar vehicle that costs less than $20,000. This is not surprising, considering that electric cars have only recently made their appearance in the consumer car industry and that electric cars are the basis for those that run on solar energy.
There are also some startup brands who are attempting to enter the market through their “sun-kissed” vehicles. Some of these brands, which are trying to produce such efficient vehicles, are the German company Sono Motors, with The Sion, and the Dutch company Lightyear, with The Lightyear One. These solar cars cost more than regular ones, as people would expect.
The former is priced at $28,762 (can travel up to 155 miles on a single charge) and the latter is priced at $135,000 and can travel up to 450 miles. Both models are still undergoing testing and aren’t fully marketed for purchase. However, if you’d like to be the first one to use them, you can preorder them as early as now. These cars’ prices are expected to rise upon release.
What are the different types of solar cars? First of all, you must know how they’re built. The solar cells in solar-powered vehicles are usually arranged in the form of an array. These panels can be mounted horizontally, vertically, adjustably, integrated, on a trailer, or remotely. Each cell is priced between $10 to $400, and the quality and type of the cell may depend on its price.
On the other hand, the cells layout affects the power output, aerodynamic resistance and mass of the vehicle, which then determines the degree of efficiency and power of a vehicle. The cars are also installed with battery packs, motors, and telemetry or energy consumption and solar energy capture monitor.
Therefore, these factors have to be considered by car producers. Of course, they also have to be designed in a way that exposes the panels without ruining the aesthetics. Currently, there are solar-electric hybrids and solar-gasoline-electric hybrids. Due to the elaborate construction technique and materials needed for production, solar powered cars cost more than the regular vehicles.
Can You Power Car with Solar Panels?
Can a vehicle really be powered solely by solar energy? Contrary to popular belief, solar-powered vehicles do not run 100% on solar energy, just as most houses equipped with solar panels are not 100% dependent on sunlight.
Most solar powered cars are electric, but the electric energy is supplemented by solar panels, so that when these panels with photovoltaic cells are hit by photons from the sun, their electrons reach an excited state and flow through the array as an electric current.
Then, they will have to be charged to supply additional energy, so they don’t suddenly stop working during a trip. These trips can usually only reach a certain distance and speed with solar energy before returning to electrical energy.
The charging process of solar powered cars isn’t simple either. A home charging unit and a PV inverter unit that convert solar power into direct current will also be needed, and these are not cheap, from about $200 for a 3 kilowatt system to about a thousand for a 22 kilowatt system. Solar panels, on the other hand, cost between $2000 and $4000. All in all, one can really spend more than $10,000 to complete such a vehicle structure.
It is true that solar-powered vehicles do not use simple or cheap technology, which may explain why there are not many car brands that produce them. However, this does not mean that they don’t exist.
In fact, the first car of this type was invented in 1955 by William G. Cobb, then an employee of General Motors. He called his vehicle a Sunmobile, but it was a miniature model that could only produce 12 horsepower. Since then, numerous solar cars have been made as part of an experiment or as an attempt to actually sell them.
Two solar car races have been established to encourage people to build them: The World Solar Challenge and the American Solar Challenge. In these competitions, college teams build their own inventions for a race to determine which is the fastest and goes furthest.
One of the successfully built solar-powered ride is the PriSUm made by the Iowa State University. Their total project expenses were $300,000, but they were able to produce a car that reaches a top speed of 75 miles per hour with 45 miles per hour on solar power alone, over a distance of 150 miles, and with an efficiency of 25%.
In terms of cars actually sold, Ford’s C-Max Energi is a popular sun-powered family vehicle in Europe. With a charging time of 6 to 7 hours, it can power the car over a distance of 21 miles. However, it is still heavily dependent on electricity to function better. There are other cars of this nature that are not part of the list, and they all offer different ranges and speeds.
How Solar Cars Can Save Your Money?
It’s established that solar powered cars cost a lot of money. However, they also bring in savings. First, unlike gasoline or diesel, electricity prices are more stable, and they don’t need to rise especially with renewable energy alternatives. The savings can go as much as $1000 per year.
There’s also reduced maintenance costs, due to being less reliant on fluids for running. Therefore, you can spare money on oil and maintenance fees. Of course, you can also save time when travelling, as you don’t have to go to your car manufacturer or gas station.
These energy-efficient alternatives also provide government incentives globally. In the UK, a $3500 grant is given to those who decide to switch to solar vehicles. In the US, a tax credit amounting to $7500 is granted to a solar car buyer.
There’s also a 30% tax credit provided by the US federal government. This is in addition to the fact that you will no longer be dependent on commercial electricity for your electric car, as there’s solar energy available to supplement the required amount of power.
Calculating the incentives you will get from the government plus the reduced vehicle maintenance and energy costs, the solar alternative really offers great savings. As a bonus, you’ll have a reduced carbon footprint and a cleaner community.
With this renewable energy powered vehicle, you save the planet 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Yes, you may pay for a large sum now, but the savings and the return of investment will definitely become more apparent in a few years.
Should you move to a sun-powered vehicle? It depends. If you’re a big car user and could benefit from reduced costs on gas and maintenance, then you can start choosing from the solar cars currently on the market to start saving now.
It is also an advantage if you already have solar panels at home, so you can easily charge your vehicle and use your solar system to its full extent. However, if you don’t commute often, or if you live near the places you need to go, then you can postpone the search for solar cars for now.
So it is always a good idea to start switching to renewable energy as soon as you can. If you have the capacity, then search for the most suitable solar-powered car now, and start reaping the benefits of this planet-friendly alternative.
At this time, car manufacturers haven’t yet developed a vehicle that runs entirely on solar energy. However, a solar-electric hybrid is already a good way to put the sun’s gift to good use. If companies manage to make them even more affordable, then it is the future of transportation.