Solar vehicles are electric vehicles, which are powered by solar energy as a type of fuel for their propulsion. A solar vehicle is an electric vehicle powered completely or significantly by direct solar energy. These vehicles are equipped with photovoltaic cells, which are installed in the solar panels and are responsible to convert the solar energy to electrical energy, which is stored directly in the battery of the vehicle. Usually, photovoltaic (PV) cells contained in solar panels convert the sun’s energy directly into electric energy. These solar panels are made of silicon, which absorbs heat and converting it to electrical energy. The term “solar vehicle” usually implies that solar energy is used to power all or part of a vehicle’s propulsion. Solar power may be also used to provide power for communications or controls or other auxiliary functions. Depending on electric vehicle type, the solar vehicle market is categorized into battery electric vehicle (BEV), hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
Solar vehicles are not sold as practical day-to-day transportation devices at present but are primarily demonstration vehicles and engineering exercises, often sponsored by government agencies. Factors such as an increase in concern about environmental pollution and an increase in demand for energy-efficient sources as an alternative to fuel are driving the growth of the market. With the increased adoption of the latest technology for vehicles, the demand for solar vehicles has augmented, which leads to the growth of the solar vehicle market across the globe. However, factors such as less operational efficiency and expensive integration of technology hamper the growth of the market. However, indirectly solar-charged vehicles are widespread and solar boats are available commercially.
Fig: A 3D view of the solar vehicle’s design
The global solar vehicle market is expected to be $329.5 million in 2023 and is projected to reach $4,087.6 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 43.3%. The solar vehicle market is segmented into electric vehicle type, battery type, solar panel type, vehicle type, and region. North America is projected to be the highest revenue contributor, accounting for $138.5 million in 2023, and is estimated to reach $1,819.4 million by 2030, with a CAGR of 44.5%. Europe is estimated to reach $1,675.1 million by 2030, at a significant CAGR of 46.3%. North America and Europe is expected to collectively account for around 77.6% share in 2023, with the former constituting around 42.1% share. Europe and North America are expected to witness considerable CAGRs of 46.3% and 44.5%, respectively, during the forecast period. The cumulative share of these two segments will be 77.6% in 2023 and is anticipated to reach 85.5% by 2030.