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It is the era of electric vehicles (EVs). All the major car makers are busy working to stand out from the crowd with unique models that have better range and power. Some makers have also innovated with electric cars by integrating solar cells into the body to contribute a little bit of power to the battery in a green way.
The usefulness of Solar Electric Vehicles (SEVs) has been much debated by experts and enthusiasts for a long time. It is indeed a cool concept to embed solar panels into the bodies of cars to at least let their batteries gather a little bit of extra power to run the car for some extended miles a day.
In this article on the best solar cars, we would like to look at some of the most sensible solar cars.
The models on our list may not necessarily have already hit the market but are in the prototype stage only. The list will, however, allow you to gain an insight into the new inventions and technologies involved in the transformation of electric cars into cool self-charging solar vehicles.
1. Sono Sion Solar Car
|Body Style and Layout||5-Door Hatchback with Front Wheel Drive|
|Electric Motor||120 kW (160 Hp)|
|Battery Pack||54kWh LFP Battery|
|Electric Range:||250 km (160 mi)|
|Solar Extended Range||112 km (up to 245 km max) a Week.|
The Sono Sion is a 5-seater, full-fledged electric car with built-in solar cells. It is from Sono Motors, a German startup, which announced the car in April 2022. It is projected to move to mass production in 2023 and will be available in the European markets in the early stages.
The electric car is to feature a 54 kWh LiFePO4 battery, and it can run up to 305 km on a single charge as per WLTP standards. The motor under the hood is a 120 kWh unit, which can produce 163 hp and a speed of 40km/h with a torque of 270 nm.
With as many as 456 half cells seamlessly built into its body, the car is expected to deliver 112 km (up to 245 km max) of extended range a week on solar power.
As per the brand, it has succeeded in its effort to integrate solar cells into the entire body of the car with a patented injection molding technology in the production phase itself. So the solar cells will look exactly like the paint on any vehicle, and they are not going to dull up the overall look and style of the vehicle.
What’s more, Sono Motors has designed the car with output plugs to let users grab power from its built-in battery to run their appliances up to 3.7 kW on a camping or outdoor trip.
Further, coupled with the brand’s Wallbox DC charging station, you can use the car’s battery to power up your home in case of an emergency or blackout.
The car comes with an exclusive Sono app that is useful for the owners to carry out several tasks easily. Car sharing, ride pooling, and power sharing are some of the coolest features of the mobile app.
2. Aptera Solar Car
|Body Style and Layout||3-Door Hatchback Coupé with In-Wheel Motors|
|Electric Motor||2 or 3 x 50 kW from Elaphe|
|Battery Pack||23, 41, 60 or 100 kW·h L-Ion|
|Electric Range:||250, 400, 600, or 1,000 miles|
|Solar Extended Range||40 Miles a Day.|
|Price||$25,900 to $47,000|
Aptera is another significant maker of solar electric cars. The cars by the USA innovator are famous for their super-aerodynamic and light designs. The Aptera solar car is capable of running for most of your daily needs with no charging as it is backed up by solar panels all across its body panels.
The Aptera solar car is a three-wheeled, two-passenger electric car. As you can see in the photo, it highlights an incredibly unique design with an amazing aerodynamic shape that resembles the belly of a dolphin. As per the brand, the car is 65% lighter than other solar-electric vehicles.
Yet another awesome thing that distinguishes the Aptera solar car from the competition is its availability of multiple battery options. You can pick a car with various battery options like 23 kWh, 41 kWh, 60 kWh, and 100 kWh, respectively, with a range of 250 km, 400km, 600km, and 1000 km.
Aptera’s Never Charge technology gives the car an extended range of 40 miles a day on solar power, as the car is equipped with 700-watt solar cells all across its body, from the hood to the dashboard.
Sporting multiple units of the 50 kW Elaphe motors, an Aptera can rev to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds.
3. Lightyear 0
|Body Style and Layout||5-Door Liftback and 4-Wheel Drive.|
|Electric Motor||80 kW Motor.|
|Battery Pack||60kWh Battery Pack.|
|Electric Range:||725 km (450 Miles)|
|Solar Extended Range||70 Miles a Day.|
Lightyear 0 is a 5-seater, highly practical solar car from a Dutch startup. With a huge 60 kWh battery pack, it can offer a range of up to 1000 km. The roof-mounted solar cells can add an extra daily range of 70 km to the car and a total yield of 1100 km a year.
The solar car’s roof carries 5 m2 of patented, double-curved, high-efficiency solar cells and four in-wheel motors that are independently controlled.
Apart from solar panels, you can charge the car at regular EV charging stations at a faster rate. It can also be charged from a regular household plug.
The Lightyear car can reach a speed of 100km/h in just ten seconds.
The car’s body panels are made of reclaimed carbon fiber, and its interior is also crafted from naturally sourced components to ensure eco-friendliness in all parts of its development.
The car has a boot space of 640 liters.
Like Sono Sion, Lightyear 0 has a typical car design along with a better aerodynamic profile for faster cruising powered by the sun.
4. Fisker Ocean Solar Car
|Body Style and Layout||SUV with Rear and Front Wheel Drive|
|Electric Motor||Single Motor FWD|
|Battery Pack||80kWh Li-Ion Battery Pack.|
|Electric Range:||300 Miles|
|Solar Extended Range||1500 km a Year.|
Fisker Ocean is an all-electric SUV with a solar roof called SolarSky for extended range.
The USA automobile innovator announced the car in 2019, and it is to move into the mass production phase in November 2022. The first deliveries of the solar car are expected to start in early 2023.
The best part of the car is that it highlights a revolutionary full-length solar roof. It can contribute a good amount of green power to the included battery pack, letting the car achieve an extended range of around 1500 km a year.
The Fisker solar car comes with an 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and it can achieve a speed of 60 mph in just three seconds. Apart from the solar panels, most of the car is constructed with sustainable and recycled materials, including ocean debris and vegan leather.
Since its prototype unveiling, the Fisker solar car has been on display at various auto shows across the world, and it has received a lot of acclaim for its look and performance. Apart from the USA, the car will be on sale in Europe.
Similar to the Sono Sion, the Fisker solar car features a PowerBank system that you can use to draw power from its built-in battery to run your household or outing equipment.
With its massive battery capacity, you can run your home for a week, and the included power outlets let you operate power-hungry outdoor appliances and electronics.
The PowerShare feature enables you to share the power in your car with another EV as an emergency power boost for a fellow owner.
5. Squad Solar City Car
|Body Style and Layout||2 to 4-Seater Micro City Car|
|Electric Motor||2,000 Watt Motors.|
|Battery Pack||4 Swappable 1.6 kWh Li-Ion Batteries.|
|Electric Range:||100 Km|
|Solar Extended Range||20 Km a Day.|
The Squad is one of the first solar city cars. Unlike all the models above, it is a microcar with solar cells over the roof to completely meet the charge needs of a small city car.
People typically drive a microcar for around 12 km a day on average, and this car is made to charge from the sun for 20 km per day in Europe, which means you never need to go for its 220V charging option.
The Squad solar car appears in two variants; L6 and L7. The former is a two-seater with 45km/h, while the latter is a four-passenger car with 70 km/h. All variants have heating facilities, while air conditioning is optional, and the battery packs are portable as well as swappable.
Needless to say, the microcar with the solar panel is the cheapest of its sort available for customers.
The car starts at a cheaper price of €6250 ($6098). Moreover, you will most likely get a waiver on several other charges that regular cars have. You won’t need to pay road tax, congestion charges, parking fees, and so on. Also, to drive this little car, you won’t even need a driving license in many countries.
That is our list of the best solar cars. As you know, over recent years, the market has witnessed the launch of dozens of solar cars across the world. We have curated this list by including practical-looking and active projects to give you a clear idea of the ongoing and upcoming solar car projects.
We will surely keep this article updated with the new arrivals and updates in the market for solar cars. Stay tuned.
Bobby is a part-time blogger who is highly passionate about off-grid and sustainable power systems and is an expert at researching and exploring new topics, checking facts, and presenting things in simple language. As an avid observer of the global off-grid power and battery market, he is really excited to share with you the latest trends, fresh products, and other developments in the markets.