Solar Cars Future and Present

venturi eclectic electric

Solar cars have yet to hit the market. As we've discussed, the technology just isn't there yet. Consumer interest, however, has arrived. For proof of this, look no further than a page of Google search results for "Toyota solar car". Toyota is developing a solar car... or is it?

Many sources cite an article in The Nikkei; many other sources say the article never printed. The best explanation seems to be here, at The Truth About Cars, and it's still a little vague. But one thing is clear: the rumors are flying and that means that solar cars are hot (pun fully intended)!

So with an eye on the future, here's our short list of what's you can find on the solar car market:

The stories about Toyota's plans for a solar car swirl about the blogosphere. Toyota denies the rumors but the company has made significant commitments to solar power and it's more likely than not that they will push the solar vehicle envelope. On the corporate level Toyota Motor Sales in Ontario, CA, installed what is currently largest single-roof solar power installation in North America. On the automotive production level, the 2010 Prius will feature a solar-powered ventilation system that operates while the car is parked. Completely indepedent of the engine, the system "prevents the interior air temperature from rising while the vehicle is parked, making the cool-down time shorter when the driver returns to the vehicle... [it] can be remotely operated, so the driver can adjthe interior temperature for comfort before getting in the car." Hardly a solar-powered car, but a nice feature that shows Toyota is thinking solar.
Solar Electrical Vehicles
This Southern California company installs solar panels on top of several popular hybrid models. They promise up to 20 miles per day of power and/or up to 29% improved fuel economy. The installation qualifies for federal renewable tax credits.
As discussed on the previous page, the Venturi Eclectic is scheduled for production in October 2009 in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, France. The all-electric Eclectic, which is basically a high-end NEV [Neighborhood Electric Vehicle] features solar panels, a portable wind-turbine generator and can also plug in for charging.

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