Electric vehicles are getting more advanced and more accessible all the time. As charging infrastructure proliferates and vehicle technology improves, they’re becoming more and more suitable replacements for your gas guzzler. To be sure--they aren’t perfect, but they will likely be an integral part of avoiding catastrophic climate change as the world’s middle class expands and more people than ever hit the road. An electric car is better for the environment than a traditional combustion engine, point blank. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of room for improvement. EV batteries require significant quantities of rare earth metals and expensive minerals that are anything but renewable and would potentially grow scarce in the future thanks to the looming EV boom. And while there won’t be any carbon dioxide coming out of your electric car’s tailpipe, that certainly doesn’t mean that your car’s carbon footprint is zero. Your EV is only as green as the electricity that powers it.
But there are already solutions to these major drawbacks on the horizon. Tesla is hard at work trying to make EV batteries last a lot longer and endeavoring to develop a cobalt-free battery. This last measure would be a huge step forward toward wider adoption, as it would significantly bring down the cost of a new electric car. Cobalt, while it’s only one element of a complex battery full of metals and minerals, is so expensive that its concentration in the EV battery represents a whopping 40 percent of the car’s total value.
And now, another electric vehicle company is back with a potentially game changing innovation. According to the San Diego, California-based startup, their solar powered electric cars never need to be charged. Goodbye charging station infrastructure concerns. Goodbye skyrocketing electric bill. Goodbye to the troublesome catch-22 of powering your electric car with coal-fired electricity. Hello to a greener future.
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Alright, maybe we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. The cars haven’t hit the market yet, and they’re not exactly a suitable replacement for your minivan. The three-wheeled ultra-futuristic solar car looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie. But the technology involved in this first wave of solar cars could be a total gamechanger--and the market has reflected the promise of these renewable powered tripods--the first batch sold out in just 24 hours.
According to reporting by Business Insider about these disruptive little vehicles, “the lightweight, three-wheeled vehicle promises up to 1,000 miles of range, more than double that of the longest-range EV currently on the market — the Tesla Model S.” The solar panels that power the car, which are built right into the vehicle, can provide 45 miles of driving per day--and that’s just the prototype. This first round of vehicles will cost from $25,900 to $46,900, and deliveries are slated to start in 2021.
Aptera has had an unconventional trajectory to where it is now--the company had previously shut down in 2011 after 6 years of business when it ran out of money. But now it’s back and better than ever. The startup began taking preorders for their new Paradigm and Paradigm Plus special edition solar EV models last week, and all 330 cars were snapped up the same day. We’ll see, when the cars ship out next year, whether they make good on Aptera’s lofty promises--”The company claims to have built the longest-range EV ever made available to the public,” reports Business Insider, “and is selling it for far less than the price of a Tesla Model S.”
Making electric vehicles more efficient, more advanced, and more affordable will provide a huge benefit to both the global struggle for decarbonization as well as the economy. Wider EV adoption has shown itself to be a major jobs creator, and the timing couldn’t be better with huge swaths of people out of work around the world and an increasingly urgent need to bring down our carbon footprint on the eve of catastrophic climate change. Aptera’s solar car is just one innovation that may or may not prove to be a momentous change in the way we get around, but it’s one of countless advances being made in one of the world’s most promising industries.
By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com
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