Science fiction writers and futurists have long predicted that human beings would be driving around in solar-powered cars. While we’re not quite there yet, a number of solar-powered prototypes have been designed, tested, and even driven by people (for short periods of time). In this article, we’ll discuss the most prominent solar-powered prototypes; it’s a fascinating look at how close we’ve come to achieving the dream of clean, renewable transportation.
Many prototypes have pointed the way to solar-powered cars. The first was built in 1974 and was a solar-powered boat. The next year, a solar-powered car made it across the United States. This was an important step towards proving that these vehicles could be reliable transportation for people outside of race tracks or closed circuits.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that another major milestone happened: A Swiss team crossed America using only their own energy source (the sun). They did this twice! It took them six months each time, but they managed to prove that it was possible to build cars capable of driving on sunlight alone without fossil fuels or electricity from power plants run by coal or natural gas.
We’re getting closer and closer to a world where solar-powered cars are not just the stuff of science fiction. The technology is here, but the economics and infrastructure still have some catching up to do. Still, we’ve come further than many might think, as seen in our timeline above. We can only wait and see what the future holds for this exciting new means of transportation!