The Solar Powered Electric Car From Back In 1960 (Video)


Some electric cars use roof-mounted solar panels to provide supplementary electric power.

In fact, a solar roof seems to have become an obligatory accessory on electric and plug-in hybrid concept cars.

But the idea of a solar-powered electric car is far from new.

DON'T MISS: Classic 1966 VW Bus With Green Drivetrain: Solar-Powered Electric Motor (Aug 2015)

It dates back to 1960, in fact, and the first car to be converted to run on solar power was already an anachronism then.

That's because the vehicle in question was a 1912 Baker electric car, modified with a roof-mounted solar panel by Dr. Charles Alexander Escoffery.

The Baker was one of a handful of electric cars that actually became quite popular at the turn of the 20th century, before gasoline cars came to dominate the market.

1912 Baker electric car converted to solar power (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1912 Baker electric car converted to solar power (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Escoffery modified what was already a pretty old car in 1960 with 26 square feet of solar cells, according to a period Life article excerpted on the Land Art Generator Initiative website.

The solar panel was used to charge the car's onboard batteries. The car was capable of one hour of driving at 20 mph, as detailed in the above video clip.

Solar-car design has advanced quite a bit in the ensuing decades, although solar-powered production cars are likely still a ways off.

ALSO SEE: World Solar Challenge Concludes As Teams Cover 1,800 Miles On Sun Power (Video) (Nov 2015)

Every two years, students from around the globe enter purpose-built solar cars in the World Solar Challenge in Australia.

The cars travel coast to coast, covering 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) in about five days.

Most cars are tiny, streamlined single seaters, although there is a class for vehicles built to resemble family cars, with conventional doors and room for multiple occupants.

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

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A company called EVX Ventures also plans to produce an electric car that can drive at speeds up to 37 mph on solar power alone.

Named Immortus, the car has 75 square feet of photovoltaic cells spread over its body, along with a 10-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged with a plug, just like in a conventional battery-electric car.

MORE: Immortus Electric-Car Concept Claims Solar Running Up To 35 MPH (Aug 2015)

The last we heard of EVX, it was attempting to raise $1.5 million in funding to start production.

At the time, the company said it only planned to build about 100 cars--priced at $370,000 each.

[hat tip: Rick Feibusch]

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