The Future Is Here: Mercedes Just Revealed a Solar-Powered Electric Concept Car

Andrew Koole
· 3 min read
The race for
EV range
domination is here, and
’ latest concept has turned the heat on. The German automaker claims its new Vision EQXX can reach 648 miles on a single charge, thanks in part to the solar cells on its roof.
No production plans were shared when the
electric car
was unveiled remotely at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 3, but Mercedes representatives insist that the car’s range and technology are “completely realistic.” 
Details about the Vision EQXX have been teased for months.
collected everything we know about the concept car here and compared it to the plans of competing brands to get you up to speed.

How does Mercedes’ solar-powered car work?

By all accounts, the expected range for the Vision EQXX is impressive.
The Verge
says it surpasses current range-leaders on the market by over 100 miles. The 17 solar cells installed on the car’s roof help it reach that number, but they don’t work alone.
The key to the Vision EQXX’s success is efficiency. Mercedes “pulled out all the stops'' to maximize the use of every watt. Based on simulations and estimates, the car is expected to travel six miles on one kWh. 
Besides its solar-paneled roof, the car’s extremely lightweight body (it only weighs 3,858 lbs.) and aerodynamic design help its battery propel it using as little energy as possible. Mercedes also tuned its drivetrain to improve efficiency.
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Are there other solar-powered cars?

So far, solar power alone can’t sufficiently propel a car, but the idea to use the technology for improving EV range wasn’t invented by Mercedes. It’s made its way through the industry for years now.
Dutch EV startup
was the first to unveil a prototype using solar panels to charge its battery while in use back in 2019. The Verge says the company teamed up with a manufacturer last July to build its first model, the Lightyear One.
Two other new companies, California’s Aptera and Germany’s Sono Motors, also hope to enter the market in coming years with solar power as their focus. But Mercedes is the first established automaker to unveil a concept car that the sun can charge.

Will solar-powered cars be expensive?

You can’t buy a solar-powered car just yet, but when the time comes, expect it to cost a lot of money. New technology like this always starts off as a luxury item until automakers find a way to manufacture it for cheap. If the design of the Vision EQXX is any indicator, it’ll be expensive.
Most electric cars still sit in the luxury segment, but companies like Nissan, Chevy, and Ford are lowering the level of entry every year. Even Tesla offers an EV for less than $40,000 now. Ownership costs vary, depending on the model, but
car insurance
is still quite expensive. 
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