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P-MOB electric car travels 20 km on solar power alone

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August 13, 2013

The P-MOB prototype electric car

The P-MOB prototype electric car

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One of the criticisms made about electric vehicles is that they’re only as “green” as the source of the electricity used to charge their batteries. A Tesla Model S may not emit any carbon, for instance, but the coal-burning power plant that allows it to recharge certainly does. In order to be truly carbon-neutral, EVs need to be able to run completely on electricity derived from clean sources. Well, that’s just what the P-MOB prototype car does ... as long as you don’t need to take it too far.

Of course, any electric vehicle can run on cleanly-generated electricity if enough of it is available. The difference with the P-MOB car is that it’s able to charge its battery up to a “practical” level using its integrated solar cells alone – albeit for a modest range, in sunny southern Europe.

The tiny two-seater weighs less than 600 kg (1,323 lb) without its battery pack, utilizes a kinetic energy recovery system when braking, and is reportedly 30 percent more aerodynamic than other vehicles of the same dimensions. It has two motors and two differentials – one assigned to each axle – essentially giving it 4-wheel drive. This provides it with improved control in curves, better traction control, plus it allows each motor to operate at peak efficiency as dictated by driving conditions. It has a maximum speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

The car has two motors and two differentials – one assigned to each axle – essentially giv...

The car’s mono-crystalline solar cells are managed by a self-adapting control system that compensates for shadows falling on part of the photovoltaic panel, or for the malfunctioning of individual cells. The battery can also be charged using mains power if need be, and can even supply excess solar power to the municipal grid, once it’s fully-charged.

When tested at Fiat’s track in Turin, Italy, the prototype was able to travel 20 km (12 miles), using power generated solely by its solar cells. The speed at which it traveled hasn’t been stated, although it did reportedly consume energy at a rate of about 80 watt-hours per kilometer.

The P-MOB project (standing for Integrated Enabling Technologies for Efficient Electrical Personal Mobility) is funded by the European Commission. It includes researchers from Siemens in Germany; Mazel in Spain; IFEVS, Polimodel and Fiat in Italy; plus Magnomatics and the University of Sheffield in the UK.

There is no word on plans to commercialize the car.

Sources: P-MOB, CORDIS

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
9 Comments

Sounds like a viable idea, given that if present trends continue long stretches of the vehicle's time will be spent sitting at a stand still in gridlocked cities and "freeways". This will give the batteries a chance to recharge.

There will probably be big arguments as drivers fight for a daily parking space which has a sunny aspect to save paying for recharging their batteries.

joeblake
13th August, 2013 @ 05:09 pm PDT

Their main concern will be the added weight of "Govt safety" systems - bumpers, crash-resist door bars, air-bags/sensors, GPS speed report systems, and the rest. A market-ready version would gain at least 100 kg, cutting the range to about 5 ms. It looks like there is still quite a bit of room for more cells though, Roof/front/rear? perhaps it might be viable after all.

The Skud
13th August, 2013 @ 09:31 pm PDT

I'll power my car with an ammonia absorption engine get a faster recharge and a better energy storage medium. And yes I can build an energy recovery system into the car as well.

Slowburn
13th August, 2013 @ 10:05 pm PDT

I wonder how much of this car's design could be incorporated into other current electric vehicles to extend their range and/or recharge their batteries? The shape reminds me of the Smart ED electric car.

I think this is really cool. It seems more practical when compared with some other electric vehicles that have really high prices.

BigGoofyGuy
14th August, 2013 @ 07:36 am PDT

> One of the criticisms made about electric vehicles is that they’re only as “green” as the source of the electricity used to charge their batteries.

How do we define a "green" source of electricity ?

> A Tesla Model S may not emit any carbon, for instance, but the coal-burning power plant that allows it to recharge certainly does

Just use nuclear power plants

> In order to be truly carbon-neutral, EVs need to be able to run completely on electricity derived from clean sources

What about *building* the actual car? How much carbon does that require?

Freyr Gunnar
14th August, 2013 @ 07:59 am PDT

Freyr, I know a way to be even greener, just sit at home don't go anywhere eat anything and turn your power off!

Jerry Peavy
14th August, 2013 @ 01:21 pm PDT

Dr. Ferdinand Porsche in the 1890's installed electric motors in the center of each wheel, like the overhead paddle fan motors, and drove his new bride to her parents home on their wedding day-wake up engineers-no transmissions, no differentials, less weight and torque loss extending the battery life!

Bill Black
14th August, 2013 @ 01:50 pm PDT

I'm intrigued by something mentioned casually in this article. I have a 60 watt solar panel. It has several rows of cells in series to get the voltage and each row connected in parallel to the others to get the current. I can confirm that if you get any shade at all across the rows it essentially stops generating electricity. If you shade one row it keeps going at reduced output.

It seems they've worked out a way to get around this problem which interests me.

warren52nz
14th August, 2013 @ 04:21 pm PDT

Another political boondoggle. Someone with connections got a lot of money to play the "green energy" game. Note: No Cd given. No curb weight, only a weight without battery. No recharge time with grid or photovoltaic given. No estimated cost, and not even expected to go into production. No info on the materials used for frame or body. If Siemens had input where was the famous "motor in wheel"?

Last, and least viable, is the potential solar to grid transfer benefit. What a desperate attempt to justify a 12 mile range.

Don Duncan
14th August, 2013 @ 05:40 pm PDT
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