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Published on October 16th, 2008 | by Alex Felsinger

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Chinese Company Unveils Solar-Powered Car for $5,560

The Zhejiang 001 Group has produced a tiny car powered entirely by the solar panels on its roof.

The panels can charge the battery enough for a 3-mile trip in just one hour. After a full charge of 30 hours in the sun, the car can travel up to 90 miles.[social_buttons]

The vehicle was debuted at the 29th Zhejiang International Bicycles and Electric-powered Cars Exhibition last week. The panels are not integrated into the car’s design, but rather stand above the car much like a typical roof-rack attachment.

According to the company, the panels can absorb up to 95 percent of solar energy, but can only transform 14 to 17 percent to electricity.

Roof panels aside, the car is nearly identical to China’s popular economy vehicle, the Cherry QQ, which is pictured above. Only ten of the solar cars have been manufactured so far, but more production is planned. Unfortunately, you won’t have much luck finding one outside of China.

Photo Credit: Anuradha on Flickr under Creative Commons license.



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About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.



  • Tim Cleland

    Well, that’s cool!

  • Tim Cleland

    Well, that’s cool!

  • Tim Cleland

    Is that price due to a Chinese government subsidy or is it a real market price with a real profit margin? If it’s anywhere near the real market value, even if it’s not available here in the US, it could mean that, eventually, we can have something like it here.

  • Tim Cleland

    Is that price due to a Chinese government subsidy or is it a real market price with a real profit margin? If it’s anywhere near the real market value, even if it’s not available here in the US, it could mean that, eventually, we can have something like it here.

  • nirad

    my guess is that US safety laws would prevent such a small, light car from being sold here. though i believe safety is important, it would be lamentable if the US falls beind in energy independence because of a new generation of alternative fuel and fuel efficient vehicles can’t be sold here.

  • nirad

    my guess is that US safety laws would prevent such a small, light car from being sold here. though i believe safety is important, it would be lamentable if the US falls beind in energy independence because of a new generation of alternative fuel and fuel efficient vehicles can’t be sold here.

  • http://no fyi

    dont get into a wreck in that… cherrys lets just say dont fair too well. im going to be in zheijiang next week. i might check this out.

  • Justin

    In that hour, they could of easily walked a mile…

  • Justin

    In that hour, they could of easily walked a mile…

  • Justin

    30 hours of sunlight? Where are they marketing this thing, Alaska?

  • Justin

    30 hours of sunlight? Where are they marketing this thing, Alaska?

  • http://jackgotjacked.com Jack got Jacked

    what an ugly car

  • http://jackgotjacked.com Jack got Jacked

    what an ugly car

  • Tim Cleland

    Presumably 15 hours in the sun would enable a 45 mile trip, and 8 hours in the sun (normal work day) would enable ~23 mile trip. Even if you assume 50% reduction in light due to cloud cover, it would still enable ~10 mile trip.

  • Tim Cleland

    Presumably 15 hours in the sun would enable a 45 mile trip, and 8 hours in the sun (normal work day) would enable ~23 mile trip. Even if you assume 50% reduction in light due to cloud cover, it would still enable ~10 mile trip.

  • Keith

    All you have to do to get around the overly restrictive safety laws in the US is make it a trike. Three wheels means it is classified as a motorcycle. Most of the electric cars that we will be seeing here will be trikes.

  • Keith

    All you have to do to get around the overly restrictive safety laws in the US is make it a trike. Three wheels means it is classified as a motorcycle. Most of the electric cars that we will be seeing here will be trikes.

  • BobCFC

    Great for Africa

  • Nick

    This car is terrible. 30 hours of sunlight for 90 miles. One hour gets you 3 miles.

    They wouldn’t market this in the U.S. because it is retarded, the safety concerns notwithstanding.

  • BobCFC

    Great for Africa

  • Nick

    This car is terrible. 30 hours of sunlight for 90 miles. One hour gets you 3 miles.

    They wouldn’t market this in the U.S. because it is retarded, the safety concerns notwithstanding.

  • Brad

    My guess would be they are lieing. A few square feet of solar panels produce barely enough light to light a small florescent light bulb. There is no way to magically push a car down the road with that little energy. And that amount of money would not buy a battery for a Honda Hybrid. Please remember this is the same country painting your kids toys with lead, and hurting their own children with tainted milk.

  • Brad

    My guess would be they are lieing. A few square feet of solar panels produce barely enough light to light a small florescent light bulb. There is no way to magically push a car down the road with that little energy. And that amount of money would not buy a battery for a Honda Hybrid. Please remember this is the same country painting your kids toys with lead, and hurting their own children with tainted milk.

  • Richard

    This car could work for local commuting and shopping. I do not think I would want to take a 400 mile day trip in one.

    U.S. safety laws could be modified. For example, for safety, England has a law that requires all vehicle bumpers to be the same height from road.

    We can handle this energy dependence problem if we make it a priority and walk our talk. Stop buying the 2+ton vehicles for daily commuting. G.M. and Ford build small vehicles for foreign sales. Sell them here. 60% of G.M. sales are made off-shore and we just gave them $25 Billion to continue to do business here.

    Changing the rules / laws in addition to throwing money at our energy dependence problem may help.

  • Richard

    This car could work for local commuting and shopping. I do not think I would want to take a 400 mile day trip in one.

    U.S. safety laws could be modified. For example, for safety, England has a law that requires all vehicle bumpers to be the same height from road.

    We can handle this energy dependence problem if we make it a priority and walk our talk. Stop buying the 2+ton vehicles for daily commuting. G.M. and Ford build small vehicles for foreign sales. Sell them here. 60% of G.M. sales are made off-shore and we just gave them $25 Billion to continue to do business here.

    Changing the rules / laws in addition to throwing money at our energy dependence problem may help.

  • Brad

    Any proof?

  • Brad

    Any proof?

  • stephen

    it’s actually a pretty good idea…30 hrs for 90 miles isn’t too bad. If you think about it, you may be able to combine this with a plug in charger to make it pretty useful.

    Also, if you think about it you’re not going to run it dry every time, so you won’t really need 30 hours to charge it up every time, chances are the battery will be half full when you charge it and it would require less time. If you could secure the cells to the roof it might allow you some extra distance but I think the cells should be incorporated into the roof (I assume it hasn’t to save costs).

  • stephen

    it’s actually a pretty good idea…30 hrs for 90 miles isn’t too bad. If you think about it, you may be able to combine this with a plug in charger to make it pretty useful.

    Also, if you think about it you’re not going to run it dry every time, so you won’t really need 30 hours to charge it up every time, chances are the battery will be half full when you charge it and it would require less time. If you could secure the cells to the roof it might allow you some extra distance but I think the cells should be incorporated into the roof (I assume it hasn’t to save costs).

  • tzvete

    I want them to make it faster:-)

  • tzvete

    I want them to make it faster:-)

  • Tim Cleland

    “A few square feet of solar panels produce barely enough light to light a small florescent light bulb. ”

    Well, a modern mass-production solar panel (see ebay)

    puts out about 8 W per sq. ft. Since they say the panels aren’t built into the roof, I’m assuming they have at least 20 sq. ft.

    of solar panels (e.g. two 2′ x 5′ panels). That would be about

    160 W (which would be enough to light about 10 compact flourescent bulbs). If they have three 2′ x 5′ panels (i.e. a 5′ x 6′ array) it would be 240 W.

  • Tim Cleland

    “A few square feet of solar panels produce barely enough light to light a small florescent light bulb. ”

    Well, a modern mass-production solar panel (see ebay)

    puts out about 8 W per sq. ft. Since they say the panels aren’t built into the roof, I’m assuming they have at least 20 sq. ft.

    of solar panels (e.g. two 2′ x 5′ panels). That would be about

    160 W (which would be enough to light about 10 compact flourescent bulbs). If they have three 2′ x 5′ panels (i.e. a 5′ x 6′ array) it would be 240 W.

  • http://www.freesand.com/ Matt

    sucks if you park in a garage…

  • http://www.freesand.com/ Matt

    sucks if you park in a garage…

    • http://Web Kelly

      Not if the garages have solar collecting panels or are made of solar collecting concrete and have something to charge the car.

  • Jonathan Silber

    Looks like a real winner. In the thirty hours it takes to charge the vehicle, you could walk the same distance and still have time left over to reflect on what a sap you were to buy it.

    Or you could just stay by the vehicle, while it charges full, and contract a decent case of skin cancer.

  • Jonathan Silber

    Looks like a real winner. In the thirty hours it takes to charge the vehicle, you could walk the same distance and still have time left over to reflect on what a sap you were to buy it.

    Or you could just stay by the vehicle, while it charges full, and contract a decent case of skin cancer.

  • Jonathan Silber

    In normal, stop-and-go traffic, the distance the vehicle could take you is less than ninety miles, is it not?

    And if you get caught in heavy traffic, you may well find yourself obliged to push your discharged vehicle to the side of the road, where you can stand stranded, only a few miles from home.

    God bless fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine: proven sustainable — into any foreseeable future — economical, convenient, and reliable.

  • Jonathan Silber

    In normal, stop-and-go traffic, the distance the vehicle could take you is less than ninety miles, is it not?

    And if you get caught in heavy traffic, you may well find yourself obliged to push your discharged vehicle to the side of the road, where you can stand stranded, only a few miles from home.

    God bless fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine: proven sustainable — into any foreseeable future — economical, convenient, and reliable.

  • http://boksiora.googlepages.com/home2?828092575 web

    The next generation of transport is coming on leaps and bounds! – Seems every third shout I get is about electric cars, scooters, bikes, and now solar cars!

    Cause for smiles. :o)

  • http://boksiora.googlepages.com/home2?828092575 web

    The next generation of transport is coming on leaps and bounds! – Seems every third shout I get is about electric cars, scooters, bikes, and now solar cars!

    Cause for smiles. :o)

  • http://gas2.0 JT

    “According to the company, the panels can absorb up to 95 percent of solar energy, but can only transform 14 to 17 percent to electricity.”

    A) If it was really absorbing 95% of the light (which is also the heat) the solar panel would be cold and frost up on a humid day. It would become a heat sink.

    B) If was absorbing 95% of the light (photons), why is the conversion SO inefficient?

    C) Until solar/hybrid/battery cars LOOK like “normal” cars in the US, there will be no real acceptance of them. This looks like a toy. The Prius succeeds commercially because its efficient and it looks like a car “should” look like.

    See also: Zaap electric cars.

    Ask yourself this: Price aside, would you be more likely to drive this solar go-cart or a Chevy Volt?

  • http://www.scottnmcnamara.com Scott

    Well just don’t eat it…its probably full of melamine.

  • http://www.scottnmcnamara.com Scott

    Well just don’t eat it…its probably full of melamine.

  • Francois Comeau

    Great for every city in the world.

    You should read the last Thomas l. Friedman book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

  • Francois Comeau

    Great for every city in the world.

    You should read the last Thomas l. Friedman book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

  • big bubs

    Wow. It must be great to live in a capitalist nation with such an entrepenourial spirit. Such a vehicle would never be allowed by the United States government.

  • big bubs

    Wow. It must be great to live in a capitalist nation with such an entrepenourial spirit. Such a vehicle would never be allowed by the United States government.

  • Kevin

    At high noon, you could maybe get 300 watt-hours, or enough to run 3 lightbulbs for an hour. At a discharge of 10 horsepower (pretty anemic), you’ve got about 2 1/2 minutes of charge. Maybe you go 3 miles. Maybe not. And not quickly. And don’t stop.

    As for 30 hours, that’s 30 NOON hours, otherwise you have to deal with the loss due to angle. About 5 clear days of sunshine to go that (maybe) 90 miles. Makes “point of no return” have meaning again.

    Note: this really isn’t something that better solar panels will fix, either. Only so much sunlight on a given spot.

    Investors beware.

  • Kevin

    At high noon, you could maybe get 300 watt-hours, or enough to run 3 lightbulbs for an hour. At a discharge of 10 horsepower (pretty anemic), you’ve got about 2 1/2 minutes of charge. Maybe you go 3 miles. Maybe not. And not quickly. And don’t stop.

    As for 30 hours, that’s 30 NOON hours, otherwise you have to deal with the loss due to angle. About 5 clear days of sunshine to go that (maybe) 90 miles. Makes “point of no return” have meaning again.

    Note: this really isn’t something that better solar panels will fix, either. Only so much sunlight on a given spot.

    Investors beware.

  • Bob

    It is ugly. But with better solar panels and better crash worthiness, at that price I’d stand in line to buy it.

  • Bob

    It is ugly. But with better solar panels and better crash worthiness, at that price I’d stand in line to buy it.

  • Brad

    Solar panels are not a cost effective way to power your house, anywhere commercial power is available. It’s unfortunate, but they are not. Why on earth would they be an effective way to power your car, where you have to add more power to the electric car to push the panel around.

    This is BS. The photo is not even the same car. It’s not even an electric car.

    The road to energy independence will be paved with tricksters hucksters, and crooks.

  • Brad

    Solar panels are not a cost effective way to power your house, anywhere commercial power is available. It’s unfortunate, but they are not. Why on earth would they be an effective way to power your car, where you have to add more power to the electric car to push the panel around.

    This is BS. The photo is not even the same car. It’s not even an electric car.

    The road to energy independence will be paved with tricksters hucksters, and crooks.

  • amy

    this will fit in the new NEV neighborhood electric vehicle rules which allow for cars that go less than 25mph,,or 35 mph some places,, except for rhode island where the powers that be are totally retarded, ( no offense to any developmentally disabled people)

  • amy

    this will fit in the new NEV neighborhood electric vehicle rules which allow for cars that go less than 25mph,,or 35 mph some places,, except for rhode island where the powers that be are totally retarded, ( no offense to any developmentally disabled people)

  • matt matt

    i like how everyone has negative things to say about this innovative car.

    styling-easy change

    safety-easy fix

    better technology-with a bit of research

    now go back to checking how your 401Ks are flushing down the drain and cry a little if you have nothing good to say

  • matt matt

    i like how everyone has negative things to say about this innovative car.

    styling-easy change

    safety-easy fix

    better technology-with a bit of research

    now go back to checking how your 401Ks are flushing down the drain and cry a little if you have nothing good to say

  • RK

    Those of you who lament US safety laws haven’t been in a serious accident. However, as commutercars.com shows us, small and light does not need to equal dangerous or slow. This idea would be great to see on the US market.

  • RK

    Those of you who lament US safety laws haven’t been in a serious accident. However, as commutercars.com shows us, small and light does not need to equal dangerous or slow. This idea would be great to see on the US market.

  • mike

    yes yes yes. now this is what i am talking about. is america ran by retards. why do we have to wait till the chinese do it. gm, ford, chrysler- i hope your companies are retired to the ashes of history very soon. you would think that a few 100,000 unemployed people in detroit would have thought of this a long time ago. if you compare u.s.capitalism to chinese communism, c’mon man. maybe we should change our flag, 50 little red stars.

  • mike

    yes yes yes. now this is what i am talking about. is america ran by retards. why do we have to wait till the chinese do it. gm, ford, chrysler- i hope your companies are retired to the ashes of history very soon. you would think that a few 100,000 unemployed people in detroit would have thought of this a long time ago. if you compare u.s.capitalism to chinese communism, c’mon man. maybe we should change our flag, 50 little red stars.

  • http://www.jolisador@gmail.com Joseph Lisador

    Super but, when come this car on the market .I living in Réunion Island where the sun don’t stop to shine.

    Wait and see.

  • http://ev4me.blogspot.com Bill

    Hey, at least if you’re caught in a rush hour traffic jam with a solar powered car, you aren’t burning energy, you’re producing it!

  • http://ev4me.blogspot.com Bill

    Hey, at least if you’re caught in a rush hour traffic jam with a solar powered car, you aren’t burning energy, you’re producing it!

  • http://www.president101.com elephants and asses

    Nice, but 5,560, safety is not included.

  • http://www.president101.com elephants and asses

    Nice, but 5,560, safety is not included.

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