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Just Add Sunshine

Aptera’s new car doesn’t need gasoline or electricity. It can run on the power of the Sun!

© Aptera

Electric vehicles (EVs) are getting more popular. One reason for this is they don’t pollute the air. But EVs aren’t always the best choice for long road trips. EVs need to be plugged in so their batteries can recharge, and plugging stations can be hard to find. That’s why a company called Aptera is making an EV that is solar powered. That means the car can run on power it makes from the Sun. 

Aptera’s new car, called the Launch Edition, has solar panels on its hood, roof, and back end. Just like solar panels on a house, the panels on the Aptera car capture the Sun’s energy. That energy is then used to power the car’s battery. Aptera says that on a sunny day, the car can drive for up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) using only the Sun’s energy. The car doesn’t need to be plugged in, so it uses less electricity than other EVs. 

What if it hasn’t been very sunny? That’s no problem. Like other EVs, Aptera’s Launch Edition car has a plug, so drivers can power their battery with electricity. A fully charged car can go for hundreds of miles before it needs to be plugged in or sit in the Sun for a while.

Aptera says it plans to start selling its Launch Edition later in 2023. However, making the cars will cost a lot of money. If Aptera can raise the money, these unusual-looking cars might be coming to a road near you!

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Fun Fact

General Motors LLC

Did you know that the idea for solar-powered cars isn’t new? In 1955, William G. Cobb showed the public a solar-powered car called the Sunmobile. The Sunmobile was only 15 inches (38 centimeters) long—way too small to sit in. But it had solar panels that powered its small motor!

Trash to Treasure

© Mogilevchik, Maryvalery/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Can a car really run on garbage? With the right technology, cars can run on certain types of trash.

Some cars are electric. And companies are building cars that run on energy from the Sun. What else could power a car?

A man named Edmundo Ramos created a way for his car to run on garbage! 

Ramos is an engineer. That means he can build things to try to solve problems. Ramos thought about the problem with using gasoline to power cars. For one thing, burning gasoline creates pollution. Also, gasoline is made from oil. Oil is a natural resource that takes millions of years to create. The world has a limited supply of oil. 

Ramos built a system in the back of his car that can replace his gas tank. It took many tests to figure out what combination of garbage and air would power his car’s engine. In fact, Ramos spent 10 years trying different things until he finally found something that worked. Now, his car runs on garbage like fruit pits, the shells from nuts, and charcoal. Ramos says that his system allows his car to go for hundreds of miles and doesn’t pollute the air!

The Power of the Sun

A small brick house with solar panels on the sloped roof

© deepblue4you—E+/Getty Images

Solar panels can power cars. Did you know that solar panels already help power many homes? You can read more about how solar energy works at Britannica School.

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