• May 24, 2010
2010 Mazda2 – Click above for high-res image gallery

It's an ultimate dream for many who aim to own an electric vehicle one day, and, over in Japan at least, it's becoming a reality. The dream, charging an EV from the sun's rays, is possibly the most emissions-free method of driving anything with four wheels and a motor. Over in the Japanese city of Tsukuba, the power of solar rays will be put to the test. Mazda, Think Global, EnerDel and Japanese-based Itochu have put their collective heads together to test the real-world usefulness of solar-to-electric systems.

Mazda provided the vehicles, Think built the drivetrain found in each converted Mazda2, EnerDel supplied the batteries and solar energy storage units and Itochu threw in some funding. Combine the efforts together and you end up with one of the world's first array of vehicles charged entirely by the sun. This is no ordinary solar charging station though. The EnerDel-designed setup employs large batteries that store the sun's energy. When a vehicle pulls in for a charge, the juice can be sent out via direct current, filling a car to 85 percent capacity in as little as 15 minutes.

The converted vehicles will be part of a car-sharing program, which allows user to reserve each converted Mazda2 ahead of time. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis, which means that getting into one might be easier said than done. Hat tip to Larzen!



[Source: CNET]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 19 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Goodcheer
      we are talking about a home system, for most situations solar is probably the most practical and likely solution. If you are buying your power from the grid then a very large proportion of it will be produced from coal in many places. Therefore you cannot connect your car to an exclusively wind or nuclear or hydro supply. So in general the statement is probably correct in this context.
      David a lot of your posts are logical but...
      How is solar " wildly expensive " when a correctly designed and installed system will save a homeowner over buying grid supplied power after some years - doesn´t that mean that your existing grid power is therefore even more wildly expensive?
      And why this obsession with standby power for wind turbines? ALL grid generation systems need spinning and static reserves. As far as I know no additional reserve generation has ever been built to support wind generation. Are you saying that gas is used due to the fact that it can be brought on line faster than other plants and therefore can cover sudden decreases in output? Is the power produced by turbines and the gas powered generation therefore more expensive than running other more inflexible plant instead? The grid needs to be modernized to make the most of renewables, but the shortcomings are in the grid system, not in the wind turbines or the solar systems.
        • 4 Years Ago
        PS I should have added that the best you do with solar pv is around 18.2% efficiency, in Phoenix.
        So you have to multiply your price per watt by around 5, so it comes to something like $15,000 to $25,000kw.
        That is seriously expensive power.
        Nuclear comes in at around $5,000kw, and natural gas much cheaper yet.
        At those prices Government and local authorities must be doing something really weird to prices in subsidies etc to make solar seem economic to anyone, even for peaking power - gas would be much cheaper for this use unless it is legislated against.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't really want to write another dissertation on renewables costs, but I was recently pretty shocked when I worked out the costs even in so favorable an area as Phoenix - I had thought solar to be a lot closer to competitive.
        As for the costs to the consumer, taxes and subsidies make such an unholy mess, including indirect subsidies to fossil fuel industries, that the prices bear no relation to the costs.
        Broadly speaking in the US natural gas produced electricity should cost around 5 cents kwh, nuclear around twice that until the plant is paid off and then around half as much, and coal varies by region.
        Prices for solar seem to center on about $5watt, when you include everything and don't do a self-install, although some claim down to $3.

        As for the problems with wind, it is really due to the huge range of power, so if you had, say, 10% of average capacity then it can go down to nothing, and indeed did so for a week or so in a cold still snap across Europe, and then can increase to provide 100% of the power, as it did on a couple of days in Spain recently.
        That means every other power source has to be essentially balancing capacity, and makes financing stable, expensive to build sources like hydro, geothermal and nuclear realistically impossible.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Mazda 2 is an ideal donor for a conversion, relatively lightweight & aerodynamic, safe, spacious for its size and also a decent looker. They should extend this to other regions.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Also comes with the most subpar engine Japan has ever created.

        Shoulda been electric from the factory ;)
      • 4 Years Ago

      Wow - and right into a car sharing program.
      No light duty government/utility programs. No easy to moderate fleet programs.

      Courageous really - hopefully it speaks to their confidence in the product.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Ah, the age-old "subsidy argument". Fossil fuels have received massive subsidies/tax breaks/incentives for more than a hundred years and they still "outsubsidize" renewables in the U.S. 3 to 1.

      As for solar being "inefficient" and expensive. Home solar delivers power directly to the house and to an emissions free EV. It doesn't have to travel over an expensive, massive electric deliver infrastructure, which, by the way is also fairly efficient. And gasoline? Please, totally inefficient in terms of both its distribution (what could be more inefficient than delivering gasoline via 100s of thousands of tanker trunks) and in terms of it powering autos.

      Home solar allows home/car owners near-total car fueling independence (now, that's satisfying!), and, with battery systems, potentially 100-percent fueling independence -- and it's plug-and-fuel! Couldn't be easier.

      Finally, home solar is eminently affordable in many places, including Colorado (where we live). EV + PV will save us a lot of money while we drive air-pollution free, and allow us to say "Tchuss" to Big Oil, forever! -- http://solarchargeddriving.com/editors-blog/on-evs-a-phevs/321-re-doing-the-solar-math-on-the-nissan-leaf.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's weird how the price of transmission varies according to advocates of renewables.
        When it comes to building huge grids to balance the intermittency of the grid, or to move solar thermal from the South-West to everywhere else they seem to think it is so low that it is hardly worth mentioning.
        When it comes to bruiting the merits of home solar it then, just like Alice, grows so that it gives incalculable advantage to home solar.
        In fact it amounts to around 1.6 cents per kwh.

        There are indeed many other costs to fossil fuels. That is why I do not advocate them.
        Natural gas is though the one with least extra uncosted extra problems.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its very heartening to read about the Mazda 2 EV, hope it will be marketed/ introduced soon in Pakistan as well where plenty of sunshine may help its battery charging to 110% in 15 minutes. Anyhow, may I suggest usage of flexible pv panels which could be provided with the car and could be mounted through quick fix/removal on its roof for charging once the vehcile is parked. Besides charging; it will provide a shade to the car for keeping its cabin from becoming very hot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Off Topic.

      I just want to thank J. Clarkson.
      His hysterically inaccurate review of hybrids in general, and the Insight in particular, has allowed me to BUY an Insight, and get something off list, and a low interest rate!

      An Insight, one of Honda's most technically advanced vehicles, NOT selling for Full List Price.

      Insight: Seats very comfortable, drives sporty in Sport mode, drives Normal in Normal Mode, Aggressive Hybrid savings in hybrid mode. Rides and Handles like a Honda sport vehicle. Getting 40 mpg in City/Suburban driving with lots of stop signs and traffic lights. Honda Reliability.

      Actually seats are very comfortable the More you keep them upright. Less so, the more reclined they are. Tires are energy saver tires, If I were going to push this car, I'd get sport tires. But, I'm looking for the 40 mpg savings.

      Thanks J. C., Keep Up the Oil Funded BS.

        • 4 Years Ago
        +1

        Every cloud has a silver lining?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ha Ha Yes, every cloud has a silver lining.
        Clarkson Discounts are still in effect.

        Though, if I could have waited I'd check out the Nissan.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I love you Mike :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its very heartening to read about the Mazda 2 EV, hope it will be marketed/ introduced soon in Pakistan as well where plenty of sunshine may help its battery charging to 110% in 15 minutes. Anyhow, may I suggest usage of flexible pv panels which could be provided with the car and could be mounted through quick fix/removal on its roof for charging once the vehcile is parked. Besides charging; it will provide a shade to the car for keeping its cabin from becoming very hot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "possibly the most emissions-free method of driving anything with four wheels and a motor."

      Not to nit-pick, as I think residential PV is great, but most of the studies I've seen suggest that for CO2 emissions, Hydro, Nuke, and Wind all beat PV by a significant margin.

      eg
      http://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn268.pdf
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thanks for the link.
        At the moment the use of renewables such as solar and wind means that natural gas mainly has to be burnt to support it, due to their not being available all of the time.
        So Germany, for instance, still has some of the highest per capita carbon emissions in Europe.
        You can mitigate it by, for instance, backing solar with batteries for use at night, but you are increasing cost all the time, and solar pv is still wildly expensive.
        The ratings for nuclear in the report name the possible need to use lower grade uranium ores as potentially increasing emissions, but fail to mention that present reactors only burn around 1% of their fuel, and that rather more advanced reactors which we have a very good idea how to build and which would need no technological breakthroughs could decrease the need for ore by a similar factor.

        • 4 Years Ago
        @ David Martin:

        "So Germany, for instance, still has some of the highest per capita carbon emissions in Europe."

        Do you have a reference for this? Thanks.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So since the solar is NOT supplemented with a CO2 producing factory..... it is the cleanest method you can get.

        So you're just arguing that it is expensive power since it uses batteries. Yeah, nit-picking.

        The great thing about the car-sharing model, is that the extra cost can be forwarded to customers who are willing to pay that extra bit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Those Japanese are always one step ahead of the game...
    • Load More Comments