Fiat Shows Solar-Powered Microcar
Offering yet another spin on next-gen zero-emissions automotive technology, Fiat has given its first public demonstration of an experimental microcar that uses solar cells as the primary source to charge batteries that drive its dual electric motors. Called the Phylla -- Greek for "leaf" -- this diminutive 2+2 has a 145-kilometer (90-mile) range with its lithium-ion pack but can travel up to 220 kilometers (137 miles) when fitted with the more advanced lithium-polymer cells that were fitted when it shuttled a group of local and regional VIPs around the grounds of the Environment Park di Torino. That Italian locale enjoys its own green significance, having been established in 1996 as part of the European Scientific and Technological Parks experiment that aimed to combine technological innovation and eco-efficiency.
Constructed from lightweight, recyclable materials, the Phylla is built on an alumimum frame and uses individual motors to drive the front and rear wheels. This innovative design exercise weighs just 750 kilograms (1653 lb), with the batteries making up about 20 percent of that mass. Needing nearly six seconds to reach 30 mph, the Phylla definitely remains a "city car" at heart, however, Fiat claims that it can top out at a respectable 81 mph. While the Phylla's photovoltaic array is scaled to provide sufficient power to keep it going on sunny days, the car also was designed with plug-in capabilities that allow its batteries to be fully recharged in four to five hours.