Solar cars are shining as one of the newest technological advancements in the automotive industry, using free energy from the sun to cut charging costs.
These futuristic vehicles are extending the range of typical electric cars, empowering drivers to access free, clean energy without burning a hole in their wallets from fuel costs.
For solar vehicles, solar energy is supplementary, meaning the cars still need to be juiced up via a charging station, but can be boosted around 40 to 60 miles per day, just by spending time soaking up some rays. That means if your commute to work is around 20 miles or less, you would not need to plug in your car more than once every seven months.
And did we mention solar charging is free?
Here are five shining solar cars to watch out for:
Arguably the most impressive feature of the Aptera is its 1,000-mile range. Because of this, much of the vehicle’s design revolves around efficiency. Each day, the car’s rooftop solar panels can give drivers up to 40 miles of free energy from the sun. To maximize efficiency, the Aptera weighs 65% less than other EVs –– in part due to the vehicle only having three wheels –– so less energy is required to move it. And, to minimize wind resistance, this car has a tapered aerodynamic shape. Another sign of high efficiency: the Aptera can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Prices start at $25,900, and deliveries will begin later this year for the earliest customers.
Automaker Fisker aims to make its solar car, the Ocean, the electric vehicle with the largest solar panel roof, which it has dubbed SolarSky –– although other automakers are competing for this title. Fisker designed the Ocean to be the world’s most sustainable SUV. In addition to using clean energy, the Ocean also features recycled materials in the interior cabin. The range of the Ocean can be as high as 350 miles on a single charge, and SolarSky can add up to 2,000 miles of range per year under ideal conditions. The Ocean costs $68,999, and production begins in mid-November.
The Lightyear 0 features solar panels across the hood and top of the vehicle that can add up to around 40 miles of range each day for free. According to Lightyear, this model has an approximate range of 620 miles between plug-charging moments. This car is highly efficient because of its sloping aerodynamic shape and four-wheel drive. Lightyear is only producing 946 units of the Lightyear 0, with the first deliveries beginning this year. Currently, this model costs a whopping $258,000, but the automaker plans on developing a more affordable model that would cost around $31,000, projected to be released by 2025.
Humble Motors’ solar car, the One, uses over 80 square feet of solar panels on the roof and windows to add anywhere between 15 and 35 miles to the range per day. Combined with charging at a station, the One can have a total driving range of 335 miles. Depending on location, the One can provide up to 7,000 miles each year at no cost. Contrary to the name of its maker, the One is not a humble car, with a maximum of 1,020 horsepower and an eye-catching aerodynamic design. The price for this model starts at $109,000, and production begins in 2024.
Sono Motors developed its solar car model, the Sion, to add 21 miles to the vehicle’s range each day using the power of the sun. One of the most prominent advantages of the Sion is its ability to charge 80% in 35 minutes using a public charging station, giving it great flexibility when it comes to long-range driving. This model is one of the more affordable options, with prices starting at around $30,000.