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Solar-powered truck achieves remarkable feat — and it could revolutionize the auto industry

The mission demonstrates just what electric power and solar generation can achieve in the right setup.

The mission demonstrates just what electric power and solar generation can achieve in the right setup.

Photo Credit: Gebrüder Weiss

A solar-powered truck has achieved a remarkable feat in Chile, climbing to an altitude higher than any other EV.

The machine, which is based on the Aebi VT450 transporter, does not run on polluting dirty fuel and is instead powered by two 120-kilowatt electric motors connected to a 300-volt nominal EcoVolta lithium-ion battery with 90-kilowatt-hour capacity, according to Electrek.

Swiss team Peak Evolution guided the truck, which is charged by four rooftop solar panels and 16 more on the ground, to an altitude of 3,400 meters (11,155 feet) up the world's highest volcano, setting a new record for the highest altitude reached by an EV.

The journey occurred on the western edge of Ojos del Salado, which is over 21,300 feet above sea level. Electricity was a particularly useful energy source for the challenge, as unlike conventional gas-powered cars, EVs don't see a reduction in power at high altitudes.

With difficult terrain to tackle and a distinct lack of refueling opportunities in the barren landscape, power and accessible energy were essential factors, and the solar EV truck was able to provide both. 

"Despite these extreme conditions, our specially developed vehicle managed to drive higher than any other e-vehicle – let alone a solar-powered one," Patrik Koller, CEO and developer at Peak Evolution, told Electrek. "We have been training for this moment for four years, so giving up was never an option."

The batteries had the capacity to provide 124 miles of range, and the addition of rooftop solar panels connected to a 230-volt AC inverter meant the team could recharge their equipment.

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The mission was sponsored by Austrian logistics company Gebrüder Weiss, and it demonstrates just what electric power and solar generation can achieve in the right setup. 

Solar-powered cars are seen as the next big thing in the clean transportation sector, with a report from SNS Insider predicting the technology will see a compound annual growth rate of 37% between 2023 and 2030. 

Globe Newswire summarized SNS Insider's findings, which suggest the market size will be worth $535.9 million by 2030. 

Solar vehicles are not yet widely available to consumers, but if stunts like the one from Peak Evolution continue to show the potential of this sustainable, pollutionless fuel, maybe the wider vehicle industry will take note of the possibilities. 

Finding alternative solutions to dirty fuel is essential for the motor sector to reduce its polluting output, with research published on Statista noting that passenger vehicles were responsible for over 3.3 billion tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide from 2010-2020.

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