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Electric car powered by solar


by Energy Matters

With oil prices rising around the world and growing demand pushing the cost of fuel to unparalleled heights, average car-users are doing it tough. Solar-powered and electric vehicles, along with hybrid technology, once a fringe flight of scientific fancy, are becoming ever more economically viable and consumers wanting to save money and fight climate change are taking them seriously.  

An example of the growing interest is alternative transport is the work by a not-for-profit group from Finland. Sähköautot–Nyt! (Finnish for Electric Cars–Now!), is taking an innovative approach to getting more battery-powered electric vehicles on the road. The group, which calls itself an open-source electric vehicle community, wants to sign up 500 or more buyers for its first proposed model.

Instead of building a car from scratch, their idea is to retro-fit existing Toyota Corollas with electric rechargeable batteries, much like the conversion of cars from petrol to LPG. At a volume of 500-plus, the cost of acquiring and converting used, petrol-powered vehicles to run on rechargeable lithium batteries will be on par with the cost of purchasing a standard internal combustion Corolla engine from the manufacturer. Retrofitting cars in this way will save the energy needed to manufacture a new hybrid or electric car.

A further environmental advantage of this method is the fact that once the vehicle has been fitted with a lithium battery, it can then be recharged using solar power and other renewable energy sources. It would be possible to plug the car battery into a rooftop solar photovoltaic system’s AC converter, both recharging and running the car with zero pollution.  

 More facilitator than manufacturer, Sähköautot–Nyt! is inviting suppliers to offer components for a prototype conversion kit. Once the conversion kit has been developed, it will use its website to assist customers in ordering a Corolla and a kit, and in choosing a local auto shop that can handle the conversion. While the group says that for the time being its kits will only be available in Finland, its founders are willing to share their knowledge with similar organizations in other nations, as renewable energy solutions benefit the whole world.


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