Even in today’s environmentally-aware times, many scoff at solar powered cars as an impractical fantasy with no hope of real-world success. And it’s true that solar energy wont be replacing gasoline in the immediate (1-5 year) future. However, that hasn’t stopped some of the best and brightest minds in automotive engineering from trying. As proof, here are 12 solar powered concept cars that might be turning heads on the world’s roads and highways in years to come!
The Koenigsegg Quant
(Image via Wired)
If you haven’t already heard of Koenigsegg, expect to soon. The Swedish supercar firm has developed a concept car called the Quant utilizing a most unlikely combination of power sources: solar energy and pyrite, otherwise known as fool’s gold. A company spokesperson at the Geneva Motor Show was quoted as saying the Quant will have a 300 mile range and take just 20 minutes to fully recharge.
The Peugeot Shoo
(Images via iGreenSpot, DeviceDaily)
One of the more futuristic-looking solar concept cars, the Peugeot Shoo utilizes a triangular design and a solar paneled roof to power the engine. According to DeviceDaily, the design was inspired by a boat and much of the car’s aerodynamism is due to that.
The Italdesign Giugiaro Quaranta
(Images via Design Applause, Zimbio)
The Quaranta is one of the most sleek and dynamic solar concept cars currently in existence. Its batteries are powered completely by solar energy, which is collected via panels positioned on the roof and front end of the vehicle. While the bulk of the Quaranta was designed by Italdesign Giugiaro, Toyota contributed its expertise to the sophisticated electronics.
The Mercedes-Benz Formula Zero
(Images via DeviceDaily, VHXN)
Mercedez-Benz made its name in luxury, not eco-friendliness, so it might come as a surprise that the company is now placing its hat in the solar-powered car ring. Pictured above is the Formula Zero, a concept car that was entered into 2008’s Design Los Angeles Challenge. It is propelled by electric motors on each of its 4 wheels and batteries that draw their power from an aero-efficient solar layer.
The Antro Solo
(Images via Inhabitat)
The Hungarian-built Astro Solo and its one-of-a-kind design get an astounding 150MPG, using a combination of solar and gas-electric power. During good weather, the solar panels on the roof are sufficient to power the car on brief 15-25 kilometer trips. When the skies are overcast, the Astro Solo defaults to a small electric engine or – get this – the foot pedaling of the three passengers!
The 1987 GM Sunraycer
(Image via GeekWithLaptop)
Solar concept cars are not an entirely new development. One of the more eye-catching and intriguing throwbacks is the 1987 GM Sunraycer, a concept car built for Australia’s World Solar Competition and never put into mass production. The Sunraycer’s 8,800 on-board solar cells generated about 1,500 watts of power, propelling this bad boy to top speeds of 68MPH and easily winning the competition.
The SEAT Brisa
(Images via Verde, Car Design News)
If it looks more like a leisurely bicycle for two than an automobile, this was precisely the creator’s intention. As CarDailyNews says, the SEAT Brisa “was not designed for a non-stop trip from Madrid to Barcelona, but as a recreational, fun vehicle.” Unlike many solar powered cars that have the panels plainly visible on the roof, the solar apperatus of the Brisa is hidden beneath the translucent body.
The Mindset Six50
(Images via Bigger Better Greener, TreeHugger)
The Six50 (on pace for a scheduled 2009 unveiling) can go 100KM on a single battery charge, drawing its power from roof-mounted solar panels. One major advantage of the Six50 is its price: although not currently in production, it has been estimated that Mindset will offer the Six50 for as little as 31,000 Euros, a pittance compared to many newer hybrids.
The Lotus Eco Elise
(Images via Carblog, Gadgets and Gizmos)
Unveiled at the 2008 British Motor Show, the Lotus Eco Elise has marched boldly into new territory – eco-friendly sports cars. And while the Eco Elise is still somewhat of a gas guzzler, one appreciates the embrace of energy saving technology like the solar panels that power the car’s electrical system (including its iPod/MP3 compatible stereo!)
(Image via Lostinasupermarket)
This slick solar-powered vehicle was one of the winners at the Royal College of Art’s Green Concept Car competition. It was designed by Paul Howse and relies upon electric, solar-powered motors for propulsion. Unfortunately, seeing as this was only designed for a competition, it’s unclear whether this car will ever actually go into production.
The Solar-Powered Volvo
(Images via EcoFriend)
Volvo made its name in safety, not solar, but that hasn’t stopped them from developing this eco-friendly monster! Created in anticipation of the 2015 Dakar Rally, the vehicle combines solar energy and fuel cells to support its diesel engine. Thus far, it might qualify as the biggest and baddest solar concept car around!
(Images via EcoFriend)
The Eve, pictured here, utilizes a specially coated windshield enabling it to harness solar rays and convert them into usable energy that powers the car. The rest of Eve’s energy comes from its body, made from a mixture of polymers that uses the friction of its turning wheels to generate electricity.