Jim Corning had an idea. Wouldn't it be cool if you could put four solar panels on your house, and then be able to power a vehicle with the energy created with them? Corning, who founded Prometheus Solar LLC, didn't have a vehicle he could power with sunlight, but he did have a wife with a Ninja 250 that wasn't getting much use.
Today, Corning has a proof-of-concept electric motorcycle. At the Santa Monica AltCar Expo, Corning was talking with curious visitors all weekend, but was happy to tell AutoblogGreen about the bike. The four panels behind Corning in the picture above offer 800 watts, enough to recharge the bike. During testing, he's blown up the batteries twice, and those accidents helped him realize the benefits of a more aerodynamic bike. Inspired by Craig Vetter's fuel efficiency contests of the 1980s, Corning designed the Prometheus research vehicle to be quite slippery (note the front wheel cover and the extended back end to give the air somewhere to go). He also wanted to keep the upright seating of a motorcycle, which influenced the desighn. Currently, the bike uses lithium-ion phosphate batteries from Thundersky that have a 4.6 kWh capacity connected to a 10 HP Perm PMG 132 motor. That means he can go up to 70 mph and has a range of about 50 miles. The bike is not for sale, but there has been no lack of interest, both at the show and on the street. Corning said he had to buy an open face helmet to talk to all of the people who chat him up at stop lights.
Listen to Jim Corning (5 min):