Several years ago, Kelly built a solar car and we used it quite a lot. When we left Colorado, we included the car in the deal when we sold our house to friends. It needed some repairs, and I’m not sure if it’s back on the road or not. It didn’t need license plates or any paperwork. You can see details about it and photos on the small website Kelly has: www.sunvee.com
By a solar car, I mean one that runs completely on solar power, with no electricity from the grid.
Kelly started by buying a four-wheel, two-passenger bicycle. (would that be a quadracycle?) The Rhoades Car company makes models for one to four passengers. In ours, we sat side by side.
Next, he motorized it and added a little roof of solar panels, with two deep-cycle batteries sitting in a bin behind us.
It was perfect for going to the post office or other short trips. The only problem was, people were so fascinated and delighted by it that Kelly often took over an hour to make a trip that would take twenty minutes in a car!
Every gallon of gasoline used has an environmental cost, but our society is so heavily dependent on the passenger car that it will take a lot of creativity – and perhaps some dire necessity – to create alternatives.
The alternatives include walking, bicycling, sharing rides, avoiding unnecessary trips, combining necessary trips, and using public busses or other public transit. Even roller blading or skateboarding would be viable for athletic city dwellers!
Getting a good bicycle is one obvious choice. There are several companies that make electric add-ons to bicycles, little motors that help you get around. So long as the bike can still be pedaled, the US Department of Transportation has ruled that electric bicycles do not fall into the category of a motor vehicle. Check with your local state for further details.
There’s a lot of creativity going on in these categories, so I’m sure there will be all sorts of interesting transportation options. One sign of this is that Kelly’s little website www.sunvee.com gets more and more traffic all the time.