EVs and photo voltaic panels go collectively like peanut butter and jelly. One factor I’ve seen within the eight years since beginning Evolve KY, Kentucky’s non-profit electrical car group, is that sometimes these with EVs need rooftop photo voltaic and people with photo voltaic need an EV. So you set these two collectively and it’s no marvel in regards to the pleasure that’s been generated for a car just like the three-wheeled Aptera.
I had the pleasure of talking to Todd Jackson, crew supervisor of the College of Kentucky’s photo voltaic automobile crew, on my newest podcast. Todd talks in regards to the historical past of the crew and the way their photo voltaic vehicles have advanced over time. We talked in regards to the distinctive tradition that surrounds working collectively to unravel such a fancy engineering problem with the objective to win races in opposition to some big-name colleges which are identified for his or her engineering packages — the last word prize.
“We’re all engaged on this mission that may be very difficult. I imply, we constructed a complete automobile from scratch — it’s very tough. We now have a really supportive surroundings,” stated Jackson. “Persons are simply usually welcoming.”
They’re placing in plenty of lengthy hours and Jackson’s objective is to supply a brand new automobile each two years.
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Photo voltaic automobile building and racing at universities has been occurring for many years. However having a commercially accessible automobile with photo voltaic on the roof is a newer phenomenon. My 2011 Nissan LEAF, being the highest trim degree, has a tiny photo voltaic panel on the rear spoiler. It actually doesn’t do a lot; it’s used to trickle-charge the 12V battery. Legend has it that when the Nissan LEAF was initially being designed, they ended up placing the tiny panel on to get rid of the deluge of inquiries from potential patrons asking why they couldn’t have a photo voltaic panel on the automobile. It primarily served that function.
Up to now, different commercially accessible EVs have experimented with photo voltaic panels constructed into automobile roofs and sunroofs with restricted success. These embrace the Toyota Prius Plug-in and the Audi A8. Quickly, Hyundai, Kia, and Fisker will be part of the photo voltaic soiree.
By means of the years, battery and photo voltaic panel effectivity has improved an incredible quantity. So, we’re at a time when a light-weight and aerodynamic car just like the Aptera can achieve a good quantity of vary from daylight alone. And, in case your use case consists of being parked outdoors for lengthy stretches of time, that would imply getting sufficient vary for each day driving on solar energy alone.
Whereas the scholars on the College of Kentucky can’t sometimes afford an EV to drive and are driving older vehicles (if driving in any respect), the work that they’re doing is spreading consciousness and has doubtless influenced the work at Aptera.
It takes some huge cash and in-kind donations from universities, personal companies, and people to make these packages a actuality. In case your subsequent car runs partially or absolutely on solar energy as a a lot cleaner errand runner, I say it’s cash effectively spent.
Associated story: The Aptera Gamma — CleanTechnica Video Walkthrough
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