In 2010, students from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia launched a test car weighing 165 kg. The official name is “Sunswift 4”. This car, also known as “Ivy”, is covered with solar power panels (panels) on a tortoise-like wide roof, barely able to accommodate one driver. In January 2011, the car successfully ran at a speed of 88.5 kilometers per hour using only solar batteries, breaking the previous record (78 kilometers per hour), and was listed on the Guinness Book of Records as the “fastest solar car in the world”.
At that time, many media and experts paid attention to Ivy’s new record and praised Haikou: “In more than 10 years, the era of solar cars will begin.” Can this dream become a reality? Today, 10 years later, people are vying to try to commercialize solar cars. Although the “pure solar cars” that rely solely on solar power for driving are still at the level of research cars or test models, recently they are equipped with large-area solar panels to minimize the weight of their bodies. Debut. After the solar car start-ups in the United States and Europe launched trial products, some companies have begun to accept customer orders and put into production. Market research agency Allied Market Research predicts that the solar car market will increase from US$329.5 million in 2023 to US$4.0875 billion in 2030, achieving a growth of more than 12 times.
The first commercial solar car “Aptera”
Currently occupying a leading position in this field is the American start-up “Aptera Motors”. This year the company plans to launch a three-wheeled solar car with a length of 4.37 meters, a height of 1.45 meters and a width of 2.24 meters. The car looks like a beetle, and the body is covered with a 3.16㎡ solar panel. When the weather is clear, it can travel about 64 kilometers a day on solar energy alone, which can meet the attendance needs of urban office workers. You can also charge for driving when it is cloudy or when you need to travel for a long distance. It can travel up to 1600 kilometers while charging. The price of the car ranges from $25,900 to $46,000. If you use the US state government’s environmentally friendly car subsidies (about 2,000 US dollars), etc., the top-of-the-line model landing price is about 228,000 yuan.
Aptera co-CEOs Chris Anthony and Steve Van Brow said: “Aptera’s energy efficiency is 13 times that of small trucks and 4 times that of ordinary electric vehicles.” The secret is to maximize weight reduction and minimize friction. To improve energy efficiency. The shape of the car resembles a smooth dolphin, and the coefficient of air resistance during driving is only 0.13. Using ultra-light carbon fiber composite materials and glass fibers, the weight of the car is about 800 kg. The three-wheel design is also to reduce the energy loss caused by the weight and friction of the car. In December of last year, the car was sold out (330 units) as soon as the pre-sale started. Aptera said: “As of February, 7,500 people have paid the advance payment for the car.”
Mild solar car is the general trend
In order to maximize energy efficiency, Aptera’s disadvantage is that it can only be used by two people. In addition, the unique design will also burden many people. Start-ups such as “Humble Motors” in the United States and “Sono Motors” in Germany are trying to overcome the above-mentioned weaknesses of solar cars. Although the utilization rate of solar energy is not as good as Aptera, the car bodies launched by the two companies are larger, which can accommodate 4 to 5 people, and the design is closer to existing cars, so it is more practical.
Humble Motors is a company founded by car experts from Ford and Ferrari. The five-seater SUV “Humble One” launched by the company has a sophisticated appearance that is no less than that of existing cars. Solar panels with a total area of 7.4 square meters are installed on the roof and other places, which can travel 32 kilometers a day using solar panels. When the battery is fully charged, the total driving distance can reach 805 kilometers. The price is 109,000 U.S. dollars. Up to now, the advance payment has reached 20 million U.S. dollars, and sales are very hot.
Sono Motors’ “Sion” is a typical family car. A total of 248 solar panels are installed on the body. It can travel 255 kilometers when the battery is full. As an auxiliary power source, solar panels can travel 35 kilometers per day.