Put a Lightbeam in Your Tank: The Solar Bug

"Can anyone show me a production vehicle that uses solar power for propulsion? Why do the energy and transportation industries sponsor these events, but never put the technology to use?" This was a comment from a reader in reaction to our post on the 2005 World Solar Challenge, a road race across Australia using just solar energy. Last month a Dutch team completed the 3,000 km to win yet again (left pic). But Bob's question remains.

Except, until next year, when hopefully the Solar Bug (right pic) will finally become a commercial reality and answer his query. Mentioned in passing as part of the Sundance Big Ideas comp, the Solar Bug is a two person vehicle, based on an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) chassis - the driver and passenger sit fore and aft. Although not as sleek as the race winning Dutch Nuon, you can plug the Solar Bug in for about 6 hours and it will transport you 60 miles on a full charge and 60 cents of cost. Let the car's roof's 200 watts solar panels collect the charge and you'll go 10-20 miles for free. Though the Solar Bug can attain top speeds of 35 mile per hour, it is restricted to 25 mph in some US states. With roll bar protection, seat belts, regenerative braking, and fibreglass body panels it weighs in at 900 lbs (408 kg) and an anticipated $15,000 USD. The vehicles are, according to AutoBlogGreen, being handmade in Bozeman, Montana. ::Freedrive-EV, via Practical Environmentalist

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