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stop sign and gas stationWhy are we here? And why are we here now? There are a number of crucial reasons actually...

1. A Convenience & Accessibility Revolution Is About to Occur. Solar-charged driving is not new. For many years, a comparatively few number of people around the U.S. – and around the world, perhaps many thousands, have been logging hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of what we here at SolarChargedDriving.Com call Sun Miles™ -- solar-powered miles driven by an electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) whose batteries have been charged using solar energy.

However solar-charged driving’s pioneers – who right now represent an extremely tiny percentage of the total drivers in the United States, and the world -- have had to go out of their way to tap the synergy between the sun and driving.

That's all about to change!

All you will need to do to drive a solar-charged car is solar panels on your home, your garage, or on a CarPort, and an EV and/or a PHEV in your driveway. Plug it in, and just like that, you’ll be off and running on the sun.

Major automakers such as Chrysler, Ford, GM, Nissan, VW and others are already rolling, or will soon be rolling mass-produced EVs and PHEVs off their assembly lines.  Solar-powered driving will no longer be the province of a few especially motivated and often highly technologically inclined individuals.

All you will need in order to drive a solar-charged car is solar panels on your home, your garage, or on a CarPort, and an EV and/or a PHEV in your driveway. Plug it in, and just like that, you’ll be off and running on the sun.

True, not everyone has the economic, solar energy or physical space resources to plug-in an EV and/or PHEV and run their car off of solar energy. But  -- because of the impending widespread availability of EVs and PHEVs -- far more people will have access to this possibility than ever before.

Differently put, a truly massive accessibility and convenience revolution is about to occur. We at SolarChargedDriving.Com think this has profoundly positive implications for solar-charged driving, as well as for solar power and EVs and PHEVs.

2. The “Green Class” -- and the Motivation to be an EV/PHEV Early Adopter. There are a number of different types of people who are likely to be early adopters of the EVs and PHEVs scheduled to roll off the major automakers’ assembly lines sometime in the next two years. Some, quite possibly a substantial number of early adopters, will be technology buffs.

Too often solar-charged driving is reduced to a passing mention, or a few short paragraphs, and then it’s on to trumpeting the excitement of EVs and PHEVs in general. To use newspaper lingo, it seems rather like burying the lead.

Many of these people certainly embrace a fairly substantial environmentalism. However, they will jump on EVs/PHEVs regardless of the form of energy used to produce the electricity for EVs and PHEVs. Currently, in the U.S., the overwhelming amount of that electricity -- 50% -- is being produced by coal-burning power plants.Yes, EVs and PHEVs running on coal-produced electricity will help to dramatically reduce air pollution and stem global warming.

grass bladesIn fact, a tremendous amount of attention and energy has been devoted to trying to convince people that electric cars, even when primarily powered by coal, are more environmentally friendly than their gasoline-powered equivalents. Indeed, trying to convince people of this basic fact is a prime concern of organizations and web sites devoted to promoting EVs and PHEVs and/or hybrid cars such as pluginamerica.orgevworld.com, and hybridcars.com, etc.

It should be, as EVs/PHEVs, even when run off of coal represent a big environmental step forward. However, too often solar-charged driving is reduced to a passing mention, or a few short paragraphs, and then it’s on to trumpeting the excitement of EVs and PHEVs in general. To use newspaper lingo, it seems rather like burying the lead.

It also seems like a bit of a miscalculation on the part of many EV and PHEV advocates. For EVs and PHEVs to succeed, a significant number of early adopters must take the disproportionate financial plunge which comes with the early adoption of a new technology. This in order that prices fall and EVs and PHEVs become more accessible to more and more Americans.

When I think about solar on my home or on my garage, or on solar carports in a Target parking lot or on on solar carports at the University of Denver powering my EV, I don’t want to get an EV next year, or next month, or next week. I want to get one yesterday!

Many in the “green class” -- a highly educated, elite, often comparatively wealthy group steeped in the ethic of environmentalism and deeply committed to “greening” the world -- still see smokestacks and mountain-top removal when they think EV and PHEV.

I am among this group.

Need some hard evidence that at least some, and I think many, in the "green class" link EVs and PHEVs to Dirty Coal?

Take the following post by "vraven" to a web story in which Plug In America co-founder Sherry Boschert talks, via video, about her own solar-charged driving experience:

"I strenuously object to plug-in electric cars. The technology is old and depends on getting the electricity from a plug--- where does the electricity ultimately come from? Coal? Hydro? How can you be sure? This is only OK if you have your own solar panels on your house and don't plug it in anywhere else. This type of vehicle would be a nightmare on the east coast where their electricity comes from coal plants. The coal comes from mountain top removal and then pollutes the air--- a disaster environmentally. Dammed streams are an environmental disaster also. The best solution is a car with new battery technology that recharges the batteries while running. I don't want to exchange one fossil fuel for another or destroy ecosystems for energy. We need new technology to solve our energy problems, not old. We should not rush to produce plug-in cars just so the consumer can enjoy cheaper, but environmentally dangerous, plug in electric energy."

Yes, I know coal-produced electricity is far more efficient and far greener than gasoline. But when I think EVs and PHEVs, I still think smokestacks, soot, dirt and smoke.  I also think, ho hum, maybe I’ll get an EV sometime down the road – when they come down in price, when they can go faster, go farther, and so on.

But when I think about solar on my home or on my garage, or on solar carports in a Target parking lot or  on solar carports at the University of Denver powering my EV, I don’t want to get an EV next year, or next month, or next week. I want to get one yesterday! Solar-powering my own EV and/or PHEV -- rather than plugging into Dirty Coal -- makes that big of a difference to me.

I don’t think I’m alone.

I believe there are thousands even millions of people like me.

When they realize, like I have just recently realized -- admittedly much later than the early pioneers of solar-charged driving -- that they, too, could be skipping the gas station entirely and not sending a penny into the pockets of large oil companies, when they realize that they could, quite literally, and -- this is the huge difference between a few years ago and two years hence -- buy an EV or PHEV off a local dealer’s lot and run it off the sun,  when they realize, as I just recently have, that, in one fell swoop they can actively, concretely  -- and this is also key -- that they can directly help drive solar forward, promote renewables, clean up the air in their neighborhood, reduce global warming, take a big chunk of change out of the pockets of “Big Oil” and “Dirty Coal”, all of this by installing solar on their home, their garage, or popping up a solar carport in their driveway and plugging in, they too will want to get an EV or PHEV not next year, not next month, not next week, but yesterday!

Why “Drill, Baby, Drill!” and add all these layers of energy loss and inefficiency, not to mention pollution, when we can get our energy directly from the sun -- and use this energy to run our cars?

As a former journalist and current journalism professor, I am trained to think and reflect in reserved fashion and not to “cheerlead”.  In fact, I know that the vision I paint here isn’t without hurdles and problems. Clearly, money and cost are a crucial issue. So, too, is the (in)ability of some to actually produce the extra sun energy off of their own roofs (they might not even own a roof to do this) to power an EV or PHEV.

As a committed and lifelong environmentalist, I am also concerned about how renewable energy products such as solar panels are produced, concerned with how the lithium-ion and nickel batteries that will run the EVs and PHEVs of the future will be produced, how they might be disposed of, and so on. SolarChargedDriving.Com will address and discuss these and other environmental issues, as they relate to solar, EVs, and PHEVs in depth.

But while no form of energy production is entirely free of environmental impact, it seems clear to me that solar-charging an EV or PHEV off one’s home is far more environmentally sound, far more energy efficient, and far more sensible than drilling for oil in the Middle East, shipping it thousands of miles on giant tankers to the U.S., using up tremendous amounts of energy and water to refine the oil into gasoline, and then burning more gasoline while distributing this gas via tanker trucks around the United States.

This doesn’t even consider the tremendous amounts of pollution generated by this extremely inefficient and wasteful process. Nor does it consider that oil -- which has developed over thousands and millions of years -- is itself the result of sun energy expended many, many years ago.

Why “Drill, Baby, Drill!” and add all these layers of energy loss and inefficiency, not to mention pollution, when we can get our energy directly from the sun -- and use this energy to run our cars?

While we at SolarChargedDriving.Com haven’t yet had a chance to investigate this, there is a very good chance that literally millions of people could be covering all of the miles they drive in a year by solar-charging their EV off of a home roof/garage and/or SolarPort system.

The best thing about a vision which sees solar driving EVs forward, and EVs driving solar -- and clean -- energy forward, is that we have an opportunity to actively, concretely and directly contribute to building this vision by doing something comparatively simple: By putting solar panels on our home, parking an EV or PHEV in our driveway and plugging into the sun.

Add to that the vast potential of solar carports in workplaces, in shopping mall parking lots, and in public places, and you have the very real potential to power tens of millions of vehicles fully by sun, with many additional EVs and PHEVs being partially powered by the sun.

This is not a fantasy, but a reality arriving as I write this and as you read it. To us at SolarChargedDriving.Com, this is a far more exciting, or should we say, a far-more charging scenario than coal-powered electricity. It represents a truly powerfully appealing vision.

We at SolarChargedDriving.Com are not claiming exclusive ownership to this vision. We are simply trying to articulate this vision so that we can help spread it to the rest of the world.

Basically, we are completely dedicated to a world in which green-minded individuals -- and there are hundreds of millions of us, including America’s current president -- can make a substantial and concrete difference on environmental, economic and political and ideological fronts.

The best thing about a vision which sees solar driving EVs forward, and EVs driving solar -- and clean -- energy forward, is that we have an opportunity to actively, concretely and directly contribute to building this vision by doing something comparatively simple: By putting solar panels on our home, parking an EV or PHEV in our driveway and plugging into the sun.

To be sure, the initial upfront costs of going solar and EV and/or PHEV are substantial. But if one steps outside the box of short-term thinking, and looks at the long-term, it’s clear that over time one can indeed save money by investing in solar and EV/PHEV technology and synergizing these technologies for one’s driving purposes.

OK, so the vision of millions of sun-powered, truly zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) zipping along America’s -- and the world’s -- highways does hinge on more than individual action. For instance, it rides on the ability and, hopefully, sincere desire of the major automakers -- to produce EVs and PHEVs en masse, even when this quite possibly could mean a big blow to Big Oil, and, if enough people solar-charge their EVs and PHEVs, Dirty Coal as well.

If major car makers pull the plug on EVs and PHEVs, individual action in terms of solar-charged driving will be effectively reduced to the tiny movement it has so far been (this is not to say this movement has not been important -- it has!).

But, given statements by some car industry folks, including GM Product Chief Tom Stephens, who said in July (2009), that he thinks there is “pent-up demand” for EVs, it would seem that car makers see the tremendous appeal of EVs (though, of course, Stephens didn’t mention solar power in the same breath).

This is very good news indeed, and, we hope, a sort of “in-your-face” to the “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd who, for far too long, has crowed that “it can be done.” Yes it can. Yes it can.

We at SolarChargedDriving.Com -- right now powered by one individual -- are going to do everything possible to make sure EV and PHEV cars can, and do happen, and that as many of them as possible are powered by solar on residential and other rooftops.

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