A heavy electric pickup truck gets an extra 2 kilometers per hour of sunlight from solar power. A car that is 2-3 times lighter could get 4 kilometers per hour of sunlight. Lower cost production could make it worthwhile to use solar power to extend the range of cars and other vehicles. With enough efficiency range anxiety could be flipped around. The Solar powered electric car would have energy and would be able to move some distance whenever it was light out. A gasoline car would have no gas if there was no gas station nearby.
The Very Light Car can fit four passengers and uses a 10.5 kwh battery for a 114 mile range (350 MPGe).
It has about 4 square meters of mainly upward facing surfaces. (Roof, windows – OLED solar can be transparent, front and rear hood)
Other researchers area also making OLED based lights and solar cells. This thin film electronics has the potential to be low cost solar power, lights and displays.
There is a factory sized inkjet printer that is bringing lower cost mass production to OLED. Initially this is for smartphone and TV displays but it can also be applied to solar power.
It would be expected that thin film solar should be able to get up to 25-30% efficiency.
At 20% efficiency and 4 square meters this would provide 800 watts per hour. There is about 5 hours of maximum sunlight each day in a typical day in the US. So 4 kwh per day which would provide the VLC with about 40 miles of range.
A portable solar pavillion that unfolds from a cars trunk could provide 10 square meters of coverage to gather power while parked during daylight hours for a full charge in 5 hours.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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