To say that hybrid cars are hot at the moment would be a slight understatement. One need only look to the car companies that are launching hybrid this and hybrid that in just about every niche of car or truck line they can. While clean diesel cars are also making noise now given their great mileage, the next big deal in hybrid cars is going to be the solar car.
Ah, the solar car. It has been a bit of an eye roller for a very long time. The only time we’ve ever seen it is when various college groups build the cars in an effort to cover some distance. The cars usually look like something out of science fiction. While an interesting competition, the cars are not viable for practical purposes to say the least. This may, however, be about to change.
The solar car may become a viable option in the not to distant future. This is the result of some fundamental changes. The first is the success of hybrid cars has clearly established that there is a market for such vehicles. In short, build it and they will buy it. Second, the technology in the field of solar conversion is advancing in leaps and bounds. More about this in a minute. Third, the price of gasoline as derived from oil is going to continue to go up as the economic recovery creates more demand and supplies are put under pressure.
The second reason, solar technology advancements, is the key to the solar car. When you think solar, one inevitably pictures large panels on the roof of a home. Researchers, however, are looking at new approaches. Toyota is already building solar panels into the shape of the roof of the new Prius to generate power for the internal climate controls. The next step is the implementation of solar dots, which are microscopic solar panels. They are so small that they can be imbedded in paint. This would mean that anything that is painted could effectively become a complete solar panel. This would include your car.
Perhaps the most exciting thing on the solar car front are the car company denials. Honda and Toyota are rumored to be building solar powered electric cars that will not use gasoline at all. Both companies refuse to acknowledge they are building them, but also are not denying it. In the car industry, that is tantamount to admitting the cars are being developed!