The electric automobile industry is booming, but some consumers are still concerned that they might have trouble charging their vehicles. Some companies hope to eliminate the issue entirely by covering their cars with solar panels. They hope to create cars and trucks that can power themselves.
Cars and Solar Panels
The idea behind a solar vehicle is fairly simple. Solar panels can generate power when exposed to the sun, so a car with enough solar panels should be able to charge itself over time. Even a relatively small set of solar panels can act as a supplemental power source to expand the car’s range. The vehicles do need a set of batteries to make sure that they can travel when it is dark out, but they can recharge themselves as long as they get enough sunlight.
The Technical Factor
Many engineers and economists have their doubts about solar vehicles. Solar panels take up a lot of space, and most cars are fairly small. A large portion of the usable surface area is on the sides of the vehicle, which rarely get direct exposure to sunlight. That makes the panels less efficient. They fear that many cars will simply struggle to generate enough power to meet their needs.
Some also have economic objections. Solar panels may last for a long time, but many consumers replace their vehicles frequently. Given the cost of solar panels, it may be more efficient to simply buy power from the grid to charge a car, even if that power comes from larger solar installations.
Are Solar Cars Coming?
Many companies are working on adding solar panels to their vehicles. It is likely that some of those designs will make it to the market in spite of the technical issues. After all, there is a great deal of consumer interest, and that can be enough to overcome any concerns about economic inefficiency.
Solar panels also have a lot of potential as a supplemental power source. Electric cars can suffer from having a limited range and difficulties with refueling. Solar panels that extend the car’s range are useful even if they can’t completely eliminate the need to recharge. Those benefits, combined with the demand for solar vehicles, mean that they are likely to have a place in the market.