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Monday, 6 June 2011

Why Solar-Powered Cars Won’t Go: They Can’t Keep Up With The Combustion Engine
May 25, 2011

Earlier this spring Idrove a solar racer designed by engineering students at the State University of New York in New Paltz.

The car runs on SunPower C-50 silicon solar cells and K2 Energy Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries all strapped to a NuGen Mobility SCM150 96-Volt motor. Its designers believe the Sunhawk, as it’s called, is a precursor to the technology that will dominate the American automotive market 50 years from now. Most of them are betting their careers on it.

Their work is crucial. But there’s reason to doubt that solar-powered cars are the future of American private transportation. For starters, solar cells are expensive. They have no infrastructure for refueling. Their batteries lose life relatively quickly. And there are many other potentially viable options for alternative fuel—natural gas, electricity and French Fry oil, to name a few.

The bigger issue here is that conventional vehicles are improving fast enough to forestall their displacement.
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