China Just Released Its First Solar-Powered EV, And It Has One Unique Feature
Updated on Jul 21, 2022 · 3 min read
As if a car being powered by the sun alone wasn’t unique and cool enough, a cohort of companies and universities in China have come together to create a solar-powered EV that also comes without a steering wheel!
The new car, called the Tianjin, claims to have level four autonomous driving, though whether that’s been proven on an occupied road isn’t clear. Either way, aside from the fact that it doesn’t fly, the Tianjin feels like maybe the closest thing we’ve gotten to a Jetsons’ car!
How does the Tianjin work?
According to Interesting Engineering, solar-powered cars have been limited to the stuff of experiments for the last few decades, but rarely anything more serious. The Tianjin hopes to change that, making it more of a commercial possibility.
The solar module on the car is a total of 87 sq ft which is significantly more than previous attempts. On a bright, sunny day, it can output 7.6 kWh of power, pushing the car up to 49mph.
And if you get caught in the clouds? The car has a battery equipped with 330 Wh/kg of storage so you can drive (or rather, ride) in peace.
The car is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 55 pounds for every 62 miles driven.
Equally unusual and daring is the car's total lack of a steering wheel. Level four autonomous driving is the most advanced there is. Tesla and Google-backed car, Waymo, have been experimenting with this technology for a while, but neither has made the leaps that the team behind Tianjin claims.
Level four autonomous driving allows a car to completely self-drive in a limited area (also known as geo-fencing), making them perfect for ride-sharing in urban areas. It sounds like the future, but how casually would you hop into a car that gives you zero steering control?
More on the interior
Outside of the lack of a steering wheel, the interior is quite basic. It’s a four-seater that comes in at 13ft long, almost 6ft wide, and 6ft high, weighing 2,250 pounds.
Upfront, there’s a simple touch screen display and three buttons below it making it an incredibly simple layout.
While it could be a moment before solar-powered, self-driving cars are available for the mainstream, this does look like a large step forward for the evolving technology!
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