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!