Swedish truck giant Scania has unveiled a first-of-its-kind hybrid lorry covered in dozens of solar panels that are capable of providing up to 10,000 kilometres of range annually.
The next-generation vehicle has already been successfully tested on public roads, with Scania hoping to develop the technology for use in commercial transport fleets.
“Never before have solar panels been used to generate energy to a truck’s powertrain like we do in this collaboration,” said Stas Krupenia, who heads Scania’s research department.
“This natural energy source can significantly decrease emissions in the transport sector.”
The energy produced by the solar panels provide the truck with a driving range of up to 5,000 kilometres per year in Sweden, though this would double in countries with more sunshine like Spain.
The researchers who created the concept believe future versions could double the solar energy generation to improve the range even further by making use of new perovskite solar cells.
“Our research towards efficient and light solar cells will be truly important, especially when it comes to applying them in future trucks,” said Erik Johansson, a professor of physical chemistry at Uppsala University in Sweden who was involved in the project.
“This is an exciting project where academia and industry together try to decrease the climate impact from truck transports. The results from this unique truck will be very interesting.”
The hybrid truck forms part of a push by companies and institutions around the world to research ways to transition away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles towards more sustainable solutions.
Last year, Dutch startup Lightyear showcased a solar-powered car capable of travelling hundreds of kilometres on a single charge.
Described as the “world’s most efficient and sustainable” vehicle, the Lightyear One is already available for pre-order and is expected to be the first four-wheeled solar-powered car capable of carrying more than one passenger to make it to market.
“Our road tests confirm that we’re on track to producing the most aerodynamic five-seater to date,” the firm stated in a release posted to its website.
“As our world moves to more sustainable energy sources, Lightyear is driving the development of clean mobility in the automotive industry.”