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Helios IV, The French Solar Powered Race Car at Paris Motor Show 2010


The Paris Motor Show 2010 presented a lot of electric and hybrid vehicles. These are revolutionary, indeed, but within a certain niche, a certain small, entirely solar-powered car was the most interesting idea of all. Helios IV, as it was named, is the brainchild of the HEI University in Lille, France, and has attended the World Solar Challenge (WSC) six times.

There’s not much to talk about Helios’s capabilities and even comparing it to the smallest of cars in terms of comfort doesn’t make any sense. Only by seeing that it can do 110 km/h (68.3 mph) solely by the power generated in real time by the solar panels is just amazing.

This is the fourth and most sophisticated and aerodynamic edition of the Helios solar race car. Although it can only host one person, the Helios is a proof-of-concept of what it can be done with an array of high performance solar cells, treated with an anti-reflex coating so it can absorb as much energy as possible and increase the cells’ efficiency.

Car manufacturers have already begun implementing solar cells in their vehicles. Toyota’s Prius, for example, features an optional rooftop solar panel that powers the air conditioning, thus decreasing battery usage. Still, the add-on increases the vehicle’s fuel consumption by 0.1 L/100km (as reported by Toyota), so at the first sight the gadget’s not worth the costs in CO2.

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