Many electric-car owners use solar panels to generate power that they can use in home charging stations.

But what if they could actually put those panels directly on their electric cars instead?

Solar-car racing is nothing new, and solar panels have been used to a very limited extent to supplement battery power in a few production cars.

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But until now there have been few--if any--serious attempts to make a solar-powered car for ordinary consumers.

The Immortus is an electric car whose creators claim it can drive at speeds up to 60 kph (37 mph) on solar power alone. It will achieve that feat, they say, with 75 square feet of photvoltaic cells spread over its body.

The Immortus project was started by Australia's Aurora Solar Car Team, but is now under the stewardship of Melbourne-based firm EVX Ventures, according to Gizmag.

Immortus solar-electric car

Immortus solar-electric car

It has the low-profile shape of a sports car, a design reportedly created to make room for the solar cells and minimize aerodynamic drag.

The covered wheels should help in the latter area as well. Those wheels will be very thin, and shod in low profile tires, to enhance efficiency--similar to the production BMW i3 electric car.

However, space inside the Immortus is limited to two occupants, along with a small amount of luggage.

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Performance goals include a 0-to-100-kph (0-to-62-mph) acceleration time of under 7 seconds, and a top speed of "over" 150 km/h (93 mph).

That will be made possible by a pair of 20-kilowatt (about 27 horsepower) motors--one for each hub of the drive wheels.

Solar energy will be supplemented by a 10-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged with a plug, just like in a conventional battery-electric car.

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Higher onboard energy capacity was deemed unnecessary because of the onboard solar panels.

Despite the weight of its battery pack, EVX claims the Immortus will have a curb weight of just 1,212 pounds.

It also claims a minimum range of 400 km (248 miles) for the car, and up to 550 km (342 miles) if driven on a sunny day at a steady 53 mph.

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EVX doesn't plan to mass-produce the Immortus. It will build cars to order, to avoid the enormous expense of meeting different crash-test regulations in various nations and regions.

It doesn't expect to build more than 100 cars, each priced at around $370,000. The company says it still needs $1.5 million to start production.

It plans to bring a scaled-down Immortus prototype to the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas this November, to drum up more interest in the project.

[hat tip: Hugh K. Crawford]


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