Take a Ride in the University of Calgary’s Solar Car

You’ll see no shortage of vehicles on the streets of New York City, but one type you won’t expect to find is the solar powered car. While we all may be driving them someday, that time hasn’t yet arrived. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the University of Calgary from touring their solar car through crowded Manhattan. 

According to Ars Technica, the university’s sleek craft was built for the 2013 World Solar Challenge—a long distance endurance race for solar vehicles—and competes in solar racing’s new “cruiser” class. That means there’s room for two inside and even some storage space in the boot, which makes this solar racer a lot more livable than the single seaters most often seen. Its name? The Schulich Delta.

All told, the entire vehicle weighs a scant 630 pounds, owing largely to its weight-saving carbon fiber body and composite-and-polystyrene chassis. Given its solar powered nature, prime real estate on the vehicle’s roof and hood have been covered with solar panels, which shuttle power to a 14kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Those batteries, in turn, power a pair of two-horsepower electric motors at the rear. It’s a bit of a sleek, rear-wheel drive sports car if you think about it.

The top speed may leave a bit to be desired—it’s only 35 mph—but project member Derek Lee tells Ars that with enough sunlight, it could run non-stop. Sadly, Midtown Manhattan traffic and sunlight appear to have been unsuitable to test either feat, though Lee does say that the Schulich Delta can plug-in and charge like today’s conventional plug-in hybrids, if need be. A back window? Side mirrors? You won’t find them on this solar car. The Schulich Delta’s sleek aerodynamics would be compromised with normal side mirrors and well…solar panels rank a bit higher than rear windows on the solar car equipment checklist. Instead there’s a dash-mounted LCD screen for the backup camera. From design to completion, development of the Schulich Delta totals two years, and its most recent accolades include racing in the 2015 Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Give it a decade or so and perhaps the sight of a solar car in Manhattan won’t be as uncommon as you’d think. Perhaps even be a solar powered Ford C-Max

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