The First Solar Car Introduced By William Cobb
Sunmobile prototype (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

JAKARTA - Renewable energy in the automotive industry is not new. Maybe not many people know that this has been developed since the mid-20th century. The proof, in that year solar powered cars have begun to be showcased.

Today, August 31, 65 years ago or in 1955, businessman William G. Cobb demonstrated the world's first solar-powered car, the Sunmobile. Launching History The car with a length of 38 cm was introduced at the General Motors Powerama Auto Show in Chicago, Illinois.

In the short exhibition, Sunmobile also introduced a photovoltaic system - a process where sunlight is converted into electricity when exposed to a certain surface - into the automotive industry which is infatuated with gasoline.

The system allows sunlight to shine on 12 photoelectric cells made of selenium built into the Sunmobile, generating an electric current and driving a small motor. Then the motor rotates the drive shaft of the vehicle, which is connected to the rear axle by means of a pulley.

Unfortunately, the Sunmobile is too small to drive. Still, that hasn't stopped crowds of visitors from seeing her during the $ 7 million auto show held during the month. Visitors also admired the approximately 250 free exhibits held in the 1 million square feet of space on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Another car showcased at General Motors Motorama (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Solar-powered cars that could actually be driven by humans appeared in 1962. The International Rectifier Company converted Baker's 1912 vintage model electric car to run on photovoltaic energy in 1958. But they didn't show it until 4 years later. About 10,640 solar cells were installed on the roof of Baker's car to help propel the car.

Then, in 1977, a University of Alabama professor built the Bluebird solar-powered car on display at the Knoxville, Tennessee World's Fair 1982. During the 80's, engineers began experimenting with solar-powered racing cars.

Today, more than half a century after Cobb launched the Sunmobile, the mass-produced solar car has yet to hit the market anywhere in the world. However, solar car competitions are held all over the world, with solar car design teams pitting their respective cars against each other. The car is pitted in road races, such as the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, which is 3,862 km from Dallas, Texas, to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Apart from the futuristic mini car made by Cobb, visitors to Powerama were treated to a display of various products using GM diesel, from oil drills, cotton gins, to submarines and other military equipment.

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