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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Solar Cars Celebrate 60 Years



solar powered car concept image
Take time today to pay homage today to Ra, the Egyptian sun god. It’s the 60th anniversary of the solar car. And that early model was just about as commercially viable as what is out there six decades later. Another fact worth pointing out is the first solar car couldn’t accommodate a driver.
cobb GM first solar vehicle image

William Cobb of GM was the brain behind the first solar car that was introduced at the Chicago Powerama Convention. The vehicle, shown above from a Popular Science article at the time, measured 15 inches long and had 12 selenium photovoltaic cells.
There was an electric motor, too, that operated a pulley that turned the rear wheels of the solar car with the somewhat uninspired name of “Sunmobile.” The first drivable solar car would debut seven years later. It was a 1912 Baker electric car (see below) that came with 11,000 individual solar cells.
Just like a house, they were mounted on the roof. Speaking of which, the first solar-powered house debuted in 1939 on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

In the 1980s, GM developed the Sunraycer. It was 20 feet long, weighed less than 600 lbs., and was able to hit speeds of 68 mph. It handily won a 1,950-mile solar vehicle race in Australia thanks to 8,000 solar cells on its exterior.
 Fast forward to 2015 and there are companies like EVX Venture. It has introduced a concept electric vehicle with solar power called The Immortus that will supposedly be energized by solar panels mounted on the chassis. The company claims a 0 to 60 time of 7 seconds — presumably if the sun is out.