Honda, which unveiled in Japan this past November a micro electric car undergoing urban field trials, has now added an option to allow the MC-β to be powered via solar energy. Rather then directly sporting its own solar panels, like this Ford plug-in hybrid concept, however, it will instead get charged cleanly at a special solar panel equipped recharging station.
The new solar charging option, said Honda, is being offered as part of field tests in Miyakojima City. Here the MC-β will be charged from three PV recharging stations newly built by Toshiba. The tests “will explore the potential usage patterns and needs of small-sized mobility products in a mobility environment unique to remote islands, where the travel distance is short and energy resources for mobility such as gasoline are procured from off the island.”
Also being evaluated during this period are the effects of CO2 emissions and energy cost reduction, which is important to any city trying to cut down on its carbon footprint. As Honda senior researcher Takeo Kiuchi said at the unveiling of the solar chargers last week “this experiment…verifies the potential of a CO2-free society [and] represents the very activities Honda is pursuing in the effort to realize ‘the joy and freedom of mobility’ and ‘a sustainable society where people can enjoy life.”
Solar charging of electric cars is nothing new, as a recent test installation in San Diego, California showcased in but one of a range of examples popping up in recent years. Overall, however, the trend is slow growing, but projects such as the one Honda is involved in offer promise for continued expansion.