Solar at the tipping point of mass adoption in EVs, says IDTechEx

December 01, 2019 //By Julien Happich
Solar
Startups Sono Motors and Lightyear announced solar family cars available as of next year. They have solar bodies rather than the useless scrap of solar roof seen on other cars. That means many owners will never plug in, observes Raghu Das, CEO of market research firm IDTechEx.

They do not have the acceleration of a Tesla, but Lightyear cheekily points out that its Lightyear One will go 740 km faster than any Tesla because the Tesla would have to stop and plug in. According to Das, the major car companies should be ashamed of those two startups taking well over $200 million of their business within one year with these attractive propositions. True, Hyundai is now on the job, announcing three large solar roof designs, one for pure electric cars, one for hybrids, another promised to be semi-transparent when available. None will make a Hyundai energy independent for anyone. Nonetheless, some Hyundai users will get over 10% of their electricity from daylight, given typical distances driven. Toyota, Hanergy and others are experimenting with more expensive, even more efficient chemistry giving at least one kilowatt per kilogram. That means even cars grabbing at least one kilowatt per vehicle.

Tesla has now joined the solar party with an option on its Cybertruck. At the launch in November 2019 he said, “There will be an option to add solar power that generates 15 miles per day, possibly more. Would love this to be self-powered. Adding fold out solar wings would generate 30 to 40 miles per day. Average miles per day in US is 30.”

Musk had previously discussed the idea of a “deployable solar shield like a retractable hard top” for electric vehicles. That feature could particularly be useful with the Cybertruck camper configuration that Tesla is planning to offer as an option. The chemistry was not revealed but we expect it to be the now mainstream single crystal silicon.

IDTechEx also notes that the Chinese plan to make the more efficient single crystal silicon more popular even than today’s workhorse polycrystalline silicon on a house near you by massive new capacity leading to robust cost reduction. Much more efficient means you get more electricity, or you need less area. The research firm expects Tesla to charge a few thousand dollars for the huge solar top, very attractive to those buying the $50k plus premium versions of the pickup. Another tens of thousands a year sale of solar cars should result.


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