Gareth Huw Davies

Green Technology

Charge is on to bring solar power to the electric car

Solar charger as fashion accessory

Is “range anxiety” being toppled from its perch as the top reason not to buy an electric car (apart from the cost)?

Has it been replaced by “it’s just as polluting because the energy comes from coal-fired power stations”?

I don’t know, but Italian design finesse has just met the solar battery charger, and the result should make  even the diehard petrol-head swoon. If it works, the low carbon future is going to be rather elegant  (see attached photo).

Italian car and design company Pininfarina has come up with this seductive concept, the Antares. The steel and aluminum, tree-like structure supports 20 photovoltaic cells. It should produce up to 4.6 kilowatts, enough to recharge two electric cars (EVs) for a range of approximately 50 miles each – easily enough to pick up that freshly made pasta after work.

Pininfarina is working on a prototype two-seater electric city car to match. The Nido EV prototype, marginally larger than a Smart, has 2 seats and is powered by a Zebra Z5 Ni-NaCl battery. Fully charged, it has a range of 140 km and a top speed of 120 km/h; it accelerates 0-60 km/h in 6.7 seconds.

The Pininfarina Style and Engineering Centre, in Turin, is also working on the BlueCar, developed jointly with the Bolloré company, and initially intended for a rental scheme in Paris (currently on hold pending a legal challenge) which would operate along similar lines to the  “Boris  Bike” rental scheme in London.

And if your comment is: “the Italians are very good dreaming about nice things, but the reality is…”,   remember the Fiat Cinquecento, still wowing us (well me, anyway) after all those years.

Besides, the solar car charger  is already with us. Carbon Day Automotive installed its Solar Plug-in Station in Chicago as long ago as 2009.


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