Electric vehicles tap solar power

Phil Castle, The Business Times

What could be better than an electric vehicle to reduce emissions and expenses? How about an electric vehicle with solar panels on top?

Solar Drive Canopy
A SolarDrive solar-charging canopy extends the range as well as the battery life of vehicles made by Evergreen Electric Vehicles based in Grand Junction. (Photo courtesy Evergreen Electric Vehicles)

A Grand Junction-based electric vehicle manufacturer has endorsed a canopy with two solar panels that generate electricity to extend the range of the vehicle as well as its battery life.

Evergreen Electric Vehicles endorses the SolarDrive system as the preferred solar-charging canopy for its vehicles, said Keith Andrews, president of the company. “This is a fairly new relationship and our endorsement is our effort to support a quality solar top for our dealers and end users who have those requirements.”

Manufactured by a Denmark-based engineering company, SolarDrive canopies use stainless steel fasteners to attach to a wide variety of electric vehicles.

An extruded aluminum frame surrounds two, 100-watt photovoltaic modules. A controller maximizes amps and volts to keep batteries fully charged.

The canopies extend the range of electric vehicles that can travel up to 25 miles on a charge another five to 10 miles. Keeping the batteries charged extends their life. What’s more, the canopies further reduce the cost of operating electric vehicles — an expense that’s already low at only pennies a mile.

Evergreen Electric Vehicles manufactures four brands of electric cars for four distinct markets, Andrews said: the Legacy brand for golf and recreational use, EVE brand of street-legal low-speed vehicles; Hoss brand for commercial and industrial use; and revamped Goat brand for off-road use.

Each of the product lines offers different options for seating, accessories and colors.

The company operates an assembly facility in Southern California, but maintains its headquarters in Grand Junction. The firm employs less than 50 people, six of them in Grand Junction.

Andrews said his company has experienced a 50 percent increase in export sales this year compared to last year, along with a 30 percent increase in sales of Hoss utility vehicles. He attributed those gains in part to a stronger “business to business” sales environment.

At the same time, though, demand for golf and recreational vehicles has declined in part because of weaker second home sales in retirement communities and the reluctance of consumers to purchase big ticket items, Andrews said.


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