It’s very difficult to discern exactly what the future holds for the power source for cars.
The way things are currently heading, it seems most likely that hybrid cars will dominate the foreseeable future – with the battery technology improving continually as the electrical component gradually takes over more of the power source from the petrol or diesel.
But this is by no means certain. There are many other competing technologies that could yet gain the upper hand.
All-electric cars remain slightly problematic due to their still relatively limited ranges – though this is improving continually as is the length of time needed to fully recharge the batteries. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the hybrid versions will dominate for the time being – judging by the concept cars being introduced around the globe by the world’s major manufacturers.
For all the advances in motor technology, cars still look and behave basically as they did 100 years ago. They’re four-wheeled boxes running on an internal combustion engine.
Recent years have seen major advancements, though, in alternatively fuelled vehicles such as hybrid cars or all-electric cars. The world has simultaneously seen big steps forward in solar technology.
So the big question is whether the two will ever be able to come together to give the planet a solely solar-powered car.
The short answer is “probably” – but it will take a while.
There are already solar-powered cars that take part in solar challenges such as the North American Solar Challenge in the U.S. and Canada, and the World Solar Challenge across the Australian outback – whereby teams of budding engineers from universities around the globe build and race solar-powered cars.
Tokai University’s Solar Car “Tokai Challenger”. The winner of 2009 Global Green Challenge. Source: Wikipedia/Solar Car
These are very lightweight vehicles
, which are wide and flat for minimal wind resistance and maximum solar panel allowance. They usually carry only one person, but can reach speeds of 50 mph and cover hundreds of miles, crossing entire continents without using any fuel; not so much low emission cars
as no emission cars!
At the moment, though, the large solar panels and battery packs required to make such cars practical for everyday use mean solar isn’t a practical option. But it’s on is way, gradually, and the technology developed in the engineers’ challenge events is used by major manufacturers.
As battery technology develops and they get lighter, and solar power improves further by means as yet unknown, then it seems we will see a solar powered car – i.e. on which continually recharges a powerful battery in the same way that all-electric cars currently work. Before that happens, it seems likely that we’ll see solar playing an ever-increasing role in recharging the batteries of electric cars as a supplement rather than sole power source.
The newest entrant in a growing Prius family of hybrid vehicles, the Prius v delivers an unparalleled blend of versatility and fuel efficiency in a comfortable, mid-size package. A new evolution in hybrid vehicles with excellent cargo space and Prius’ heritage of environmental performance and fuel economy, the 2012 Prius v will go on sale in Fall 2011.
Image by: HybridCars
The new Prius v, with “v” expressing the vehicle’s versatility, will meet the needs of growing families with active lifestyles while providing the same attributes traditionally found in the Prius DNA. Despite the spaciousness of a family friendly midsize vehicle, the Prius v will deliver estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined.
“The Prius v brings leading-edge hybrid technology to customers who need more room and provides more cargo space than 80 percent of all small SUVs,” said Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter. “And because it’s a Prius, it produces 66 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new vehicle and will have the best mileage ratings of any SUV, crossover, or wagon sold in America. We think that’s a win-win for everybody.”
The Prius v will be utilizing …