OK, so solar powered stuff is not new news. But we recently completed design of a Tesla “Powerwall” generator for a home in Bexley, Ohio; and the system was fascinating. So, I started hunting for other modern solar powered stuff. And although there were literally thousands of products, I narrowed it down to those I found to be the coolest.
I drove to the local boutique grocer last week, and parked next to a really sharp sports car. I didn’t recognize the name, but it was eye catching. However, on my way out of the store, as I passed it again, I guess the sun hit it just right because I realized that it had a solar paneled roof. That certainly made me take notice of the name; it was a Fisker Karma. I had a serious aha moment. What a brilliant idea! Why don’t all electric cars have them?!! Wait, do other electric cars have them?!! I needed to find out.
After some digging, it appears that several car makers including Toyota, Hyundai and Tesla have been dabbling in solar powered cars for years. But until recently, the panels only produced enough juice to power some interior systems, door locks, AC, etc. So, the technology was limited…until now.
The Lightyear One, a solar powered car manufactured in the Netherlands, claims to be the first grid independent car. According to Wikipedia, the car is designed by former engineers from Tesla and Ferrari. The car’s hood and roof are composed of solar panels that can add 30-40 miles of driving range a day. Production kicked off in 2021 and first deliveries are expected in 2022 in Europe, Norway & Switzerland. Retail: $150,000 euros = about $174,000 US dollars.
Having seen a Fisker in the wild, I was especially interested in the brand. The Fisker line was created by Henrik Fisker, the design visionary behind the BMW Z8 in the early 2000’s. He debuted the Fisker Karma in 2008, and the first deliveries took place in 2012. Today, the LA (and Berlin) automaker offers the “Ocean”, a crossover SUV at a starting price of $37,500. The car and its design innovations will be unveiled in this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show later this month. Production is slated for 2022.
There are no words to describe this Tesla lineup addition, except for WOW. It may be called a “truck”, however at first glance it’s anything but. It’s more like Star Wars meets Mad Max with a hint of DeLorean. Intrigued? You have to visit the website and see for yourself. Architecturally, the Cybertruck is a marvel. And the list of “wow” features according to Car and Driver and Tesla.com include:
- an estimated driving range of 500 miles
- the strength to tow up to 14,000 lbs.
- an adjustable “on the fly” suspension that can provide up to 16 inches of ground clearance
- can haul 3500 lbs. in the 6.5-foot cargo bed
- and has a “nearly impenetrable exoskeleton” and armor glass
The starting price ranges from $39,900 to $69,900, and you can reserve one now at tesla.com.
Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional. The following is intended to arm you with information, so that you can discuss this with your personal accountant or tax professional.
OK, so if you are considering an electric plug-in car, this may push you over the edge. If you purchase a qualifying EV (electric vehicle) model (irs.gov has a list), IRS Section 30D provides up to $7500 in a tax credit as incentive. What does that mean? I found the simplest explanation on Car and Driver. A qualifying EV tax credit is a reduction of the income tax you owe. For example, if you owe $5,000 in federal taxes but are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, your tax bill drops to $0. But you don’t get the rest as a refund. So, if you are someone who normally gets a refund, the tax credit does not put extra money into your pocket.
ELECTRIC BIKE (EB, EBike)
ALIBABA 2-SEAT BIKE: This solar roofed trike could get you 5 hours of riding time without having to pedal. Only $1550 each…if you purchase the minimum 100 units.
ELF: This multi-passenger “bike” comes equipped with a 100 W solar panel, standard 48 V battery and charger, which could power this EB for up to 14 miles (depending on cargo load and terrain). $8,895 – $9,795.
PEBL: Not to be outdone by the competition, the PEBL eBike cannot only provide up to 30 miles of pedal-free distance (depending on cargo load and terrain). But comes with a button for reverse and cruise control. $11,750.
SMALLER SCALE SOLAR POWERED STUFF
With the gift giving holiday just ahead, these could be some fun ideas.
BACKPACK: Perfect for hiking or a trip to the beach. Power up cell phones, iPads or other electronic devices. Est $80
COMPUTER KEYBOARD: Tired of changing batteries on your wireless? This one may set you free. $30 on Amazon.
LOUNGER: This reclining lounge chair with built-in spray misters, speakers, and a USB charging port, all powered by the sun. $4000 on Hammacher Schlemmer.
IPHONE CASE: Sadly, not available for current iPhone models. But if you know if someone with an iPhone 4-7, Ebay still has a few available in the $19-$30 range.
TOYS: DIY build and play solar powered dinosaurs, robots and insects. Multiple configurations. $12 – $30 on Amazon