ZAP, which stands for Zero Air Pollution, was at the Chicago Auto Show which we were at, and we took pictures of the three-wheeled cars and trucks that they have to offer. At that time, their website showed that a solar option would be coming soon. Come it did; adding a solar panel to the roof adds roughly $2,000 to the price of the vehicle. The vehicle is called the ZAP Xebra Xero. No solid data exists on how long it may take to charge the batteries completely with the solar unit on the vehicles roof, which would depend on the amount of sun available and the angle at which the panel were pointed anyway. However, ZAP is claiming that the car can operate for short distances on power from the solar panel only. Again, just how long and how fast is debatable. Is the solar panel worth the price? Well, that would depend on the type of trip you are most likely to use the vehicle for. If you will use it rarely, so it has time to charge via the sun in between trips, it may work out great. Perhaps some real-world testing of the vehicle will give the rest of us some "live data" to consider.
In my opinion, it's a good first step. The days of masses of vehicles running solely on solar power are likely a ways off still. But, if there are some early adopters of the technology, and as the efficiency of the panels and individual cells increases, who knows? I for one would love never having to plug in an electric car, or fill the vehicles tank with fuel. Solar power truly is one of the cleanest forms of power you or I are likely to find.
[Source: ZAP via The Auto Channel]