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Conversion Question: Charge as you drive?

by G. Jones
(New Jersey)

Rooftop Solar Array

Rooftop Solar Array

Also, has anyone done a conversion using solar panels to regenerate? It seems to me that the sun may add several miles to the battery life. My donor vehicle is a Ford Ranger with ladder racks... seems like a good place to place solar panels.

Hi, G!
You're right, the combination of an internal combustion engine (ICE) and a battery pack makes them hybrids.

Unlike the Prius, though, these hybrids give you the choice of either plugging in (for short trips) or gassing up (for long trips).

With a series hybrid, the gas generator recharges the batteries as you go, but the car is basically electric-powered. You could just as easily plug in to the wall if you didn't have far to go.

With a parallel hybrid, either the gas or the battery can power the car - it's up to you.

So, yeah. You can charge while you drive with these. But you want to plug in as much as possible, because it's cheaper! The Prius doesn't give you that choice...but it should, and the new ones coming out will have plug-in options.

As for the solar panels? Your instincts are once again correct! You can add a few miles to your range with the sun, depending on a few things.

Here's the problem(s), though:

One - solar panels are heavy and bulky (for now), and they add pounds and drag to your EV that sort of cancel out the benefit they provide;

Two - the panel on your car can't be positioned for optimal direct sunlight;

Three - solar panels don't like to be bounced around. The ones that you set up on the roof of your house work better and last longer than a mobile one set up on a car.

As solar panels improve, this will be an excellent solution! Stan Oshinsky, the smart guy behind Ovonic's NiMH battery for electric cars, designed solar panels that roll out like rugs; lightweight, flexible, durable, and efficient. You can see them in the movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Truly sustainable transportation.


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