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  • Solar Bug Turns Sun’s Rays into Highway Miles

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2008
Michael A. Greenwood

Car shoppers looking for “cute” in their next purchase need look no further than the Solar Bug. It is noticeably smaller than the VW bug, has saddle seats and handlebars for steering and comes in a blazing sun-yellow color.


The Solar Bug runs on a combination of solar and electric energy. Production of the car is slated to begin soon. Courtesy of Steven B. Titus.

Besides owning one of the more charming cars on the road, buyers also will be driving perhaps the most environmentally friendly one.

The diminutive car is equipped with a 200-W solar panel mounted on its roof and six batteries that power a high-torque Pancake motor up to 35 mph and allow the car to cover 60-plus miles between charges. The solar panels, which recharge the batteries, can provide as much as 25 percent of the car’s daily power needs.

Steven B. Titus, president of Solar Bug, started working on a solar car seven years ago. He has been fine-tuning the technology ever since at his Bozeman, Mont., headquarters and is preparing to begin production of the car soon. Seven dealerships, one each in Montana and Colorado and five in California, so far have agreed to sell the car.

The Solar Bug is not intended for interstate use. It is classified as a low-speed vehicle and is designed for quick trips about town or for travel along back roads. It seats two people in a motorcyclelike arrangement — where the passenger sits behind the driver — and can accommodate up to 300 lb. The body is made of fiberglass, and the entire vehicle weighs 900 lb.

Titus said he has been driving the prototype for more than four years. “I don’t miss going to the gas station,” he said.

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