You Asked for It: Japan’s Solar-Powered ‘Puzzle’ Van Coming to U.S.
Solar-powered cars have been touted as the next phase beyond EVs. Those coming to mind include Aptera, Lightyear, Sono Motors, and even Toyota. Yes, Toyota was offering a $600 solar roof option for the Prius earlier this year. This brings us to the “Puzzle”, a cute Japanese EV and solar power mini-minivan coming to America.
A product of HW Electro, it had its U.S. debut last week in New York. The manufacturer revealed its plans for the light electric minivan coming here in 2025. It features seating for two, with a digital dash, infotainment screen, and simple physical knobs below.
What is the Puzzle EV solar van’s purpose?
“The Puzzle launch marks HW Electro’s dedication to addressing environmental challenges and creating innovative eco-friendly solutions to the commercial vehicle market,” said President Hsiao Weicheng. “We are excited to officially showcase Puzzle today and we look forward to making it available in the U.S. market in 2025.”
Now, HW Electro is not your typical EV or solar startup. For years it has been producing multi-purpose commercial EVs. In fact, it says it was the first to do so in Japan, according to NewAtlas.
So HW Electro’s slant is making commercial vehicles, which puts the approach of the Puzzle in a better light. For starters, the interior door panels are like a peg board, where you can hang tools or other items. There are also AC outlets, USB ports, internet capability, and emergency tools. Also, it includes a first-aid kit and a crowbar. Road-rage anyone?
Why does the Puzzle EV solar van look so different?
These functions, tools, and aids are all accessible from outside of the Puzzle. Opening a small door reveals these features. Inside, there are 11 feet of cargo floor with the seats taken away. It can handle 770 lbs of cargo.
Flat panels and duplicate use have kept tooling costs low. For instance, the panel below the headlights and the front portion of the top are the same. The same applies to the door stampings, where it only utilizes two to make up four.
What kind of power and range does the Puzzle have?
The solar power comes in with the three photovoltaic roof panels. They become backup power to extend battery life. Unfortunately, there are no specs right now for how much of an extension the solar panels give.
That also goes for motor power, range, top speed, and how long fast charging takes. Oh, and the price. So there is a lot to learn. But the bottom line is that a Japanese kei-car-like minivan with solar power could be in our future. It will probably have a 25 mph speed limit. But we could see rules shift to accept these smaller and more environmentally friendly vehicles. With two years to go, it’s up to HW Electro to make it happen.