NOVA PBS

History's Innovative Autos

back | 7 of 9 | next

Sunraycer

Solar electric
In 1987, General Motors harnessed solar rays to help run its Sunraycer experimental racing vehicle (above). The Sunraycer's photovoltaic cells converted the sun's energy directly into electrical energy; the electricity then powered an electric motor that drove the car. Although similar technology is still used in special aerodynamic racecars, any purely solar-powered road vehicle designed to meet general safety standards would be larger and much heavier than the Sunraycer, requiring more power than can yet be generated to achieve highway speeds.


Car of the Future homepage | NOVA homepage

NOVAPBS