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PHOTO CAPTION: Solar Electric Scooter has range up to 20 miles on 36V battery mounted under PV panel.

Solar Panel Doubles As Electric Scooter

Van Nuys-based Solar Electric Scooter's PV panel both charges the 36V lithium battery and serves as rider's platform: top speed is 15 mph.

Published: 31-Mar-2013

Think of it as a solar panel you can ride. That's the concept behind Solar Electric Scooters, a Van Nuys company that is about to go into production with an electric scooter that uses a solar panel as both the rider's platform and the energy supply.
Park it in the sun, and the panel will take six minutes to recharge the scooter for every minute it was ridden. It can also be plugged into a traditional 110-volt wall outlet, which halves its recharge time. Powered with a 36-volt lithium-ion battery located under the ridable panel, the scooter is designed to travel 20 miles per charge.

"We're solar guys," said Michael Donnell, a general contractor who, with business partner Tony VanMeeteren, came up with the idea for the scooter because "I needed a better way to run errands than cranking up my F-150 or riding my bike." He's been installing photovoltaic rooftop panels since the 1980s.
Measuring 13 inches by 32 inches, the riding platform is smaller than traditional rooftop solar panels but larger than most scooters' space allotment for feet. Donnell said the solar glass can withstand the weight of a 300-pound rider and is laminated so it's still able to generate electricity if it's scratched.
Powered with a 350-watt hub motor in its rear wheel, the scooter's top speed is 15 mph, negating the need for insurance, registration or a license. California law requires that street riders be at least 16.
Solar Electric Scooters aren't yet available to the public. This week, the company began a monthlong crowd-funding campaign through whenyouwish.com to raise capital for production. The first 50 people to pledge their support can purchase the scooter for $1,500; the following 50 for $1,700.

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