The Helios IV Team Takes Their Green Vehicle to Paris
With the Paris Auto Show 2010 still going in full force, there have been quite a few green vehicles that have been showcased these last couple of days. One interesting addition to the show was a former World Solar Challenge competitor that went on display recently alongside all those brand new concepts. I have mentioned the World Solar Challenge once before when discussing a vehicle that had been developed by the same minds behind the solar racer known as the Nuna. The challenge consists of a 3021 kilometer race that begins in Northern Australia and spans the continent to finally end in the south. The race, which has been running since its creation in 1987, has seen several interesting concepts.
One of those concepts that have been getting attention in the news as of late hails from France and is known as the Helios IV. This solar powered green vehicle was first designed by a group of students and researchers at the HEI University located in Lille, France in 1992. Since then, it has been constantly redesigned and entered into the World Solar Challenge, the European Solar Challenge, and other similar races that have pushed the Helios IV to the limit. After putting the vehicle on display at the Paris Auto Show 2010, some supporters have been saying that the Helios IV is the perfect example of what can be done with solar panels in the mainstream automobile market.
Like most solar racers, the Helios IV is a fairly small green vehicle designed for use by only a single person. The compact vehicle has been designed to make the most aerodynamic frame possible, leaving a bank of solar panels running from front to back and only a small spot for the cockpit and windshield. While it might not be much to look at, the Helios IV is capable of moving at speeds up around sixty eight to seventy miles an hour. These speeds can be accomplished even without a fully charged battery and just by generating the needed power from the sun as the Helios moves down the road.
Whether the Helios IV will compete in the next World Solar Challenge remains to be seen, but the team behind the green vehicle are excited that they may be able to go far with their design. On their website, the even likened the Helios IV’s potential with that of the 1970 Mustang and its explosive popularity when it was first introduced. Considering the fact that many car manufacturers are beginning to experiment with the placement of solar panels on the cars for added power, they may not be far off base. Of course, they will still need to move away from using the Helios IV primarily as a racing vehicle if they hope to take the civilian driving world by storm.