Petrol car converted to run on solar power

Strip out the engine, slap on solar panels, save the Earth

Those clever Japanese scientists have been at it again, working hard to find answers to problems we never knew existed. This time, they've come up with a way to convert dirty old normal cars into clean, green electric vehicles.

The breakthrough comes to us courtesy of the Total Mobility Project. It's a scheme intended to prepare for the rapid aging of Japan's population and led by the local government of Fukushima Prefecture, which lies 300km north of Tokyo.

Savings in the bank

Using a Mazda Roadster as a test bed [Subscription link], the team has succeeded in removing the engine and petrol tank and replacing them with an electric motor and battery. After slapping seven solar panels across the bonnet of the car, they found it able to run for 30km at a top speed of 100km/h.

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As for cost, the conversion ran to a hefty ¥2.5 million (£10,500), but the bright side is that drivers doing a daily average of 60km can expect to save ¥1 million (£4,200) over five years.