Speaker 1: It's long been the stuff of sci-fi legend solar cars for the longest time, they seemed about as likely as those nuclear cars, they thought of back in the fifties, but now it's happening. The solar, not the nuclear. Let's take a look at three leading solar cars and where they think they fit and where they might really fit in your driving life.
Speaker 1: [00:00:30] Now, the first thing I want you to know about solar electric cars is that they don't just run on the sun, necessarily all of these cars that I'm gonna show you also can plug in where they will get a faster, bigger charge for greater longer range. The solar part is meant to be kind of like an electric electric hybrid. Part of the range can come from the solar panels. A larger part would come from a conventional plugged in charge, but just having an option to do [00:01:00] short, minor driving on the sun alone is worth the look.
Speaker 1: The light year zero, you may have known it formally as the light year. One certainly comes off as the most sophisticated of the electric cars and for a quarter of a million dollars, it ought to be. Now don't worry. The other cars I'm gonna show you cost about the same as the sales tax on this one light ear says the 54 square feet of solar panels across the top of the car can deliver as [00:01:30] much as 40, 45 miles a day of driving. Now that's a ballpark because it depends on where you live and where you park. Don't put this thing in a parking garage, you're wasting your time.
Speaker 1: And by the way, that range is part of 390 miles of total range, you would get mostly from conventional charging, 320 of which you can get in about a half an hour via DC, fast charge, kind of like a lot of other electric CARSs. So you've got two ways to look at the [00:02:00] range and how you get it. And that's the first lesson about solar electric cars. They have kind of two metrics running at once the solar range and what it gives you in terms of amount of miles per day, or amount of miles per week. And then you've got the not per day per week conventional chart. It's a little weird now part of how this car does, what it does is something else that is common to solar cars, not weighing too much. The light year zero weighs about 3,500 pounds. I understand that's pretty good. It's [00:02:30] not a super feather weight, but compared to other electric cars today that have this huge battery pack that they obviously have to have. That's pretty spelt that battery pack alone can weigh 500 to 800 pounds or more in a typical EV and part of how they save weight on this car is also a theme you're gonna hear over and over. And that is by using compact simple in wheel motors, as opposed to motors that are more centrally mounted and drive the [00:03:00] wheels through axles and maybe a reduction gear and such,
Speaker 1: If you really want one of these, well, you're gonna need to get your passport stamped. They will not be for sale in the us, maybe in a few years, it's a very vague possibility, but this is an EU and UK car, about 950 of 'em will go out in the first batch. It's real.
Speaker 1: Okay. On a completely different end of the price. Spectrum is the Sono cion, uh, about $30,000. [00:03:30] That's a relief, 190 miles of range in general on its battery pack. But then they have this other weird metric, which is 70 to 150 miles per week via solar charging, big ballpark there, right? That's because it's very hard to tell where an intended buyer lives in terms of sunniness proximity to the equator and such and where they live in terms of their micro environment. How urban do they live in a concrete canyon are out on the open [00:04:00] Plains. It's a little hard to put these things into an EPA style rating because of those factors. Now, as you can see, the sea on is clearly in the damn the looks crowd and is all about function. It's kind of a sought off chunky looking little thing, but it's more or less in the people mover vein of styling and almost every single square inch of its body is solar panel.
Speaker 1: Not just the ones that face the sky, but along the sides as well to maximize the capture of sun, no matter where it [00:04:30] is on the arc of a day now, by the way that 30,000 or so price, I mentioned, that's an extrapolation from a European market price. There is no plan yet to bring this guy to the us and like a number of electric cars, uh, Sono makes a big deal to sea on being a potential power source for other things, including other electric cars via a rather cheeky production photo. They hand out that shows their little car helping out another well-known electric car. [00:05:00] Maybe one that couldn't make it to a supercharge. Now, one reason I'm intrigued by the San cion is because they recently cut a deal with Valette of Finland. This is a well known and high quality contract manufacturer. They currently make, I think, three or four models of Mercedes for Mercedes. They used to build for a handful of years Boxsters and Caymans for Porsche. So now they're gonna build this little interesting solar electric ride that adds another stroke of credibility.
Speaker 1: [00:05:30] Then there's the appera solar vehicle. Now, if you think you've seen this before, it's because you've seen this before, but not in solar form until very recently appera has been around as kind of a next big thing in hyper efficient cars for a long time, without really breaking through. But this one's interesting. It's got their trademark aeronautic design, three wheel layout exceeding lightweight, two passenger configuration. They say that combination [00:06:00] allows this thing to get around using just 30% of the energy of even today's best efficient electric or plugin hybrid cars, super efficient is their goal. A light car uses a light battery, which allows the battery to get you farther on its lightness, because the lightness of the whole package, you get the idea. There's a virtuous circle here. When you start to lightweight things that are dealing with electricity, that is harder to put back in than is gasoline.
Speaker 1: And they're really banking on that. Now here's where it gets interesting. [00:06:30] You'll be able to order app Terras in several models with different size batteries from 250 miles of range, too. They say a thousand miles of range. Now most of that will be put in through conventional charging, not through the solar charging. However, the solar part should be able. They say to provide you all you need for your daily usage, except for unusual, longer trips. How long is that? Well, they've got this sort of interactive map where you can drag it around, find out what zone you're in estimate the miles you drive. And they'll say yes [00:07:00] or no, our solar panels and battery will cover you for your average running around town. And as more and more of us work from home and take shorter trips around town, as opposed to long wasteful commutes, the argument holds a little more water inside, takes a little getting used to it holds two people, hopefully good friends side by side.
Speaker 1: At least it's not a tandem. There's quite a bit of cargo space in the back. They actually show it almost comically huge back there. Now you may have noticed, I keep calling this the appera [00:07:30] vehicle, not solar car that's because depending where you live, your us state may have a different take on what this is. Is it a motorcycle? Is it an auto cycle? As I think some regulations call it, do you need to wear a helmet? Appera says no, cuz the whole thing's enclosed, what license do you need? Regular driver's license, motorcycle license. In some states there's a three Wheeler license. So it depends where you live. But notice what I'm saying, this car is made in and destined for us sale pricing will range [00:08:00] from $25,000 or so for the 250 mile range model up to around 50 grand. If you want the big Kauna with the 1000 mile range. And the difference is how many battery modules they slide into this sort of channel down the middle floor, spine of the thing.
Speaker 1: So while you make up your mind about solar cars, let me give you a few of my thoughts here. That might help. First of all, what they're doing with solar to me has the potential to leapfrog the convenience of [00:08:30] gasoline cars, where most electric cars are trying to get as close to the convenience as possible. But this says we can blow right by it. For most of your average local driving, you wouldn't worry about charging at all, not quick charging like refueling gas or longer charging like plugging in, but no charging. That's a compelling argument now because solar panels are a tepid source of energy compared to a high current corded charge or, or a fueled vehicle with liquid combustion. We're talking about something where lightweighting [00:09:00] becomes an exceedingly important part of the design. As I think you've noticed in the three examples we've looked at, I would like this to become more of a guiding light for the entire auto industry.
Speaker 1: It's kind of an odd angle, but I think these solar cars might be kind of a micro hit with the prepper community because as more and more things go electric, our cars, they want us to move our water heaters, everything we can to electric, right fireplaces, you start to see more and more of a single point of failure in daily life. When the grid goes down, everything goes down [00:09:30] in an all electric future, but a solar car is gritless at least for some basic get around town transportation. And of course, solar cars are looking at another niche, the urban dweller who needs a car that's small and efficient, but doesn't have any place to reliably plug it in either at home in a multi-unit building or anywhere in their congested city that they feel particularly good about. It's always been a pain point with electric cars.
Speaker 1: Now in this case, the problem with that is those people tend to live in concrete canyons that [00:10:00] may not have the best sun exposure. So that one may kind of neutralize itself, I guess, overall, I see the solar part of solar electric cars as a shock absorber. You're still going to use the corded charge for anything unusual, unexpected, or you're not sure what you're driving duty is gonna be today. You're gonna pump that thing up with volts and get the big range, but then you've got this solar system that runs without you having to think about it. And you go out in the car that day and say, huh, I think I'm wanting, gonna drive 10, 15 miles today. And [00:10:30] I didn't have to do anything to get ready for that in terms of plugging in or planning to do so. That's an interesting middle ground to try and loosen up some of the tyranny of range, anxiety. Look, it's an interesting sector. I'm not ready to say it's gonna set the whole electric car industry on its ear. No, I don't see that, but I do see it being an interesting niche for certain applications and one that has a good base to build on let's check back after initial launches [00:11:00] and then generation one being in the rear view mirror. What do the gen two cars look like in terms of what they've learned in the market and how technology advances have made them a little broader proposition.