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The move to electric-powered vehicles is still in its fledgling stages, but there are plenty of signs that the next few years will finally start ushering in battery-powered transportation for the masses. But there's one class of vehicle that has almost always been powered by batteries: R/C cars. Slap in a couple of 9-volt batteries and a slew of AA cells, and kids of all ages get to pretend they're Ken Block in the backyard until mom says it's time to clean up for supper.

Why no solar powered electric cars?

Seat Brisa and Duna concepts - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Marcelo da Luz and his team, world record holders for the furthest distance traveled in a solar-powered car, have had their share of ups and downs on their journey across North America in the Xof1 (Power of One) solar car. At one point, the car was even mistaken for a flying saucer with little green men aboard. Sadly, after making it all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana, driver Marcelo da Luz was robbed of passports, laptops, credit cards, cash, a digital camera and a portable hard drive.

Don't get too excited yet, but reports are coming out of Japan that say Toyota is developing a solar-powered car. First of all an electric car that draws electricity solely from the sun is still quite a few years off. The first stage is a car that gets some power directly from vehicle mounted solar cells with the bulk coming from being plugged into a solar array at home. This is really not much different than some Tesla Roadster owners like Martin Eberhard and Elon Musk are doing today, some wit

Twelve years ago, Toyota started selling a car that was bought by those considered avant-garde, on the fringe. It was called the Prius. Now Toyota is looking to "turn around its struggling business with a futuristic ecological car," and the company is supposedly working on plans for a solar-powered car. We'll ignore, for a moment, that a company with $18 billion in cash and experiencing its first annual operational loss in 70 years is now called a "struggling business." The noteworthy news is th

Click above for more shots of the Phylla ZEV

Well, it's not exactly a solar car, but it's a start, right? By now, everyone is aware that General Motors is in a bit of financial trouble at the moment, and those U.S. problems will definitely have an impact on the European automakers also owned by GM, including its Opel subsidiary. A German power company called SolarWorld has made an extremely odd offer to the General to purchase the Opel brand for 1 billion euros, or about $1.26 billion in U.S. funds. Um, not gonna happen, for a variety of r

Lest you think that it's easy to make a competitive solar racer, take a look at the videos of the University of Texas' Samsung Solorean (the name is a reference to the DeLorean from the Back 2 The Future movies), which are pasted after the break. In a nod towards that movie car, the portal to enter the solar racer opens gull-wing style. Pretty cool. The SunPower A300 solar cells, which cover the carbon fiber body with a Kevlar enclosure, can generate 1.1 kW of power. An on-board battery pack is

We just got tipped that Sunmotor, an electric vehicle hopeful based in Boston, plans to release its first product in America. It's solar and electric powered car ain't pretty, that's for sure. In side profile from wheel-to-wheel, you'll notice that Sunmotor's car is a clear smart fortwo knock-off. We wish it stayed that way, but the front and rear glass of the EV takes its own styling direction. And it's an extremely unfortunate one. We are guessing that the car's designers wanted to maximize th

Maybe Dyson doesn't suck as much as we thought. James Dyson, the inventor of new age, overpriced vacuum cleaners, had recently been reported by The Independent as interested in working on developing his own green auto, specifically a solar-powered electric vehicle. The story (as reported by AB Green and others) was that Dyson engineers were working on an electric motor derived from the one used in their own vacuum cleaners. Dyson was said to be looking for partners to build the car, with the com

Vern Buchanan (R), the Congressman representing the Sarasota, FL area, is one politician who sees the "green" light. While visiting with solar and electric car maker, Cruise Car Inc, whose manufacturing and sales operation is in his district, the lawmaker made a plea for a national bipartisan effort to make the switch from fossil fuels to more environmentally-friendly energy sources. Speaking to the company's employees and assembled media, Buchanan said, "My sense is we've been misled as America

Ah, those Italians and their penchant for rolling art. While the Fiat Phylla solar car concept may not yet exist in drivable form, it's asymmetrical styling sure is an attention getter. Presented a few days ago in Turin, Italy during "Uniamo le energie," this city car is designed to use solar panels and a hydrogen fuel cell to send power to each of its four wheels yet emit nothing but water and good vibes.

Wanna build a solar car? Good new for you, then! Nelson Kruschandl has set up a website where he gives you the ins and outs of solar car construction. Sure, there's plenty of power available from the sun, the tricky part is harnessing enough of it to get anywhere. Therefore, lightweight parts and low power consumption are the name of the game. The make the process as simple to understand as possible, Kruschandl has broken the design down into nine essential components:

Remember last year when we posted the video Infinity Miles per Gallon? In that video, Art Haines of Applied Robotics Company set out to build a solar powered electric car ... and succeeded. At the time, we lauded the independent thinking that Haines clearly showed in the project. The story was far from over, however, as Haines is now offering his unique solar NEV in kit form from his website, sunnev.com. So far, five of the kits have been ordered and Haines is working to get them shipped out now

When it really comes down to it, what is the "holy grail" of electric cars? Battery power? That is extremely important to be sure, but an equally convincing argument could be made that light weight is the most important factor. Whatever your aim is when it comes to improving the design of the electric car, having a modular chassis design would allow for many different parameters to be checked and changed. That is what students and researchers at Waikato University have been designing, and they h

Using a body of carbon fiber, Kevlar and epoxy swathed over a honeycomb core, the Sinag solar car, a first for the Philippines, is set to enter the 20th World Solar Challenge in Australia in October. The three-wheeled vehicle converts energy from the sun into electricity using 400 solar cells, silicon-based, which are capable of sending 2000 watts to a pack of lithium polymer batteries and in turn to the electric motor driving the rear wheel. Like other solar racers, the car seats one person and

While looking for good stories to feature on our site, I ran across this video from KTLV on CNN. The event highlighted is the Dell-Winston Solar Car Challenge, a solar race starting from Dell Headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, and finishing in New York eight days later. To see if they will be passing anywhere near you, click here. They also have a blog, although as of the time of my writing this post, it had not been updated for a few days. The racing started on the 16th and will finish up on th

Do you remember the hydrogen fuel cell powered toy cars that we have shown you in the past? If you do, you might also remember the fact that they are extremely expensive, which is the problem with hydrogen powered products of any kind. If you like the idea of alternative power for you kids, but can't quite afford the hydrogen version, consider going solar instead. Neat Solar Stuff offers a few vehicles and robots which are powered by solar energy. Some of their products will accept a small batte

I think it's a good idea to get kids, even as young as 9-to-11 like these ones, thinking of alternative sources of power for their future transportation choices. When I was young, I was really interested in cars and trucks of all sorts, but the green trend had not yet started. Now, as kids are growing up and still forming opinions of the world, they are getting a taste of new types of energy sources. Just like when computers started going mainstream and kids began knowing more about them than th

Do you remember when we ran an article about the Shell Eco-marathon? Does the sound of 6,792 miles per gallon jog your memory? Think that's high? That can't hold a candle to the all-time record of 10,705 miles per gallon set in 2003! That kind of mileage is impressive, even if the vehicles used to record such astounding numbers are very small and can seat only one person. Not surprisingly, as you can see from some of our pictures, women are often the drivers, as they often weigh less that us guy

We are getting pretty used to seeing DIY electric cars on these pages, but not too many DIY solar electric cars. But, that is exactly what one man in the United Arab Emirates did. Saqr Bin Saif's creation seats two people in a reclined position and tops out at about 50 kilometers per hour, which is about 30 miles per hour. The vehicle was built in three months, after about four months worth of planning. The solar panels generate 170 watts of power to the batteries, which actually are what powers

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