Is a Ford Mustang Mach-E With a Solar Power Roof the Future of Electric Vehicle Charging?

As if the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle hasn’t been popular enough, have you seen the version with solar power? The Tjin Edition Mustang Mach-E California Route One version comes equipped with a set of roof-mounted solar panels, just in case. The solar panels powered a RayVolt USA electric bicycle, but what if it could power the whole car?

A Ford Mustang Mach-E powered by solar power

Ford Mustang Mach-E with solar power
Ford Mustang Mach-E with a solar power roof | Ford

At SEMA 2021, a bright orange Ford Mustang Mach-E stole the show. The paint was cool to see, but so were the roof-mounted solar panels for the RayVolt USA electric bicycle. Neil Tjin worked with Ford to build the custom Tjin Edition Mustang Mach-E California Route One. The Mach-E came with custom LED headlights from LIGHTWURKZ.

The solar panels on the back were custom-built for the build and to power the electric bike on the back. Ford and Tjin needed a significant number of panels to power the bike. What if the whole vehicle could be powered by solar power? It seems like an obvious answer to the lack of electric vehicle charging stations, but it is probably much harder than it looks. Why hasn’t anyone made a solar-powered electric vehicle?

Lightyear and Aptera Motors are working on solar power vehicles

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In a recent article by The Wall Street Journal, the author investigated a Dutch startup called Lightyear. The Lightyear One is “a long-range solar electric vehicle designed to be grid-independent and to drive anywhere,” the company says. This vehicle offers five square meters of solar panels and claims it can be driven for months without charging it. The panels are beneath safety glass that has been thoroughly tested. On a fully charged battery, the Lightyear One range offers a range of 450 miles (725 km) on the WLTP drive cycle.

Aptera Motors Corp. of San Diego claims to be the first solar EV that requires no charging. The Aptera Luna looks more like a spaceship than a vehicle, but the company claims it gets 1,000 miles on a single charge. That means about 40 miles a day of solar-powered driving.

It isn’t quite that simple

Everyone would be making vehicles run from solar power if it was a simple feat. However, due to the small surface area a car offers, solar power cars have to be extra efficient. Plus, vehicles will also have to offer a plug-in option for when solar isn’t enough.

The Lightyear One is slated to start at around $175,000 when it comes to production. The Aptera Luna is supposed to be much more affordable at $29,800 and is slated for release in the U.S. next year. If Ford decided that a Mustang Mach-E would be improved by solar power, would people buy it? Let’s see how the Aptera Luna launch goes next year. For now, the Tjin Edition Mustang Mach-E seems to have sparked some interest in fans.

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