What Are Existing Solar Cars Like?
Yes, solar powered cars have been around for quite a while, since Ed Passerini created his Bluebird in the 1970s. These cars all made use of photovoltaic cells, which were used to convert direct sunlight into electricity and thus run the vehicle. Solar panels were often installed on the roof for this purpose. The problem, however, is that so far, these cars are only good for races; to see exactly how long the vehicle can go without gas. So that tells you already that there’s no way (at least not so far) to keep it going indefinitely.
All the big car companies like Ford and Mazda have also developed solar cars, but those are all concept models. Most do not actually run on solar power, but have little solar powered additions. In one, for example, the headlights have solar panels. In another, solar panels on the roof are used to power not the car itself, but interior lighting and the sound system.
What Are the Challenges that Face this Industry?
Solar powered cars definitely have a market. There are so many energy-conscious and environmentally responsible people around the world, many of whom have stopped using cars altogether and switched to bicycles in order to save what fuel they can. Being green is the order of the day. However, it has not yet been possible to develop an affordable solar car which is actually viable for commercial use.
Solar cars, for one thing, have not yet been made to move very fast. For another, no car can run entirely on solar power because then it will break down if there is cloud cover, or at night. These are the areas where innovation is required; the French car company Venturi, for example, created a concept model which ran both on solar energy and wind energy. In January 2014, Ford announced that it has developed a new concept model; one of a completely Solar Powered Car. There are high hopes that this car or one of its successors will finally be the first solar car available for sale in car dealerships the world over.
Why is the Solar Car so Important?
We are settling into green living, bit by bit. We practice water conservation habits, and some of us have solar powered homes in order to save electricity and preserve fossil fuels. We take great measures to reduce our carbon footprint as far as possible. But we need cars, cars which move fast and can take us from point A to point B with minimum hassle.
We have not yet been able to do away with automobiles; we need to replace our gas-guzzling four wheelers with a truly energy-efficient and sustainable model. It doesn’t matter if it runs on sunlight, wind or coffee beans, as long as it doesn’t run on gasoline and petroleum. Making alternate forms of transportation viable for everyday use and affordable for all must become one of our priorities in the years to come.
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