Despite having to sideline his epic journey on the Pan-American Highway from the Arctic Circle to the southern reaches of Argentina due to a solar panel ripping off in high winds in Mexico, Joel Gregory Hayes hasn’t given up on his ambitious plan to prove 100% solar-powered vehicles are feasible and spark conversation about climate and the technological future of society.
Hayes collaborated with Solarolla Electric Vehicles to convert a 2010 International EStar electric delivery truck into an EV with 120KWHs of battery power that is capable of being charged on solar-only for a maximum range of 200 miles.
The 24,330W rooftop solar array can be deployed to track the sun. 2/3rds of the array that are tucked under the van’s main roof for driving and slide out when parked using winches. The winches then work to track the sun by tilting the array up to a 45°. There are also two satellite panels attached to the rear of the van that can be detached and manually maneuvered to track the sun.
“The Route Del Sol vehicle requires developing a love of Slow Travel: it takes 20 hours to charge the array of flexible solar panels, which in places like Alaska during most of the year requires a few days of patience in one location. Hayes explains that this waiting is a part of the journey so the van is equipped with a nice kitchen – of course, fully electric and powered by the sun, including the 90-liter refrigerator and induction cooktop – and equipment like surfboards to turn waiting time into an adventure.
After spending a couple years making the journey from the Arctic Circle to Mexico, Route del Sol experienced a setback when all the solar panels blew off the roof during a particularly windy stretch of road in the Desert, in Baja California, Mexico. “Our entire solar array was ripped off the roof of the van and thrown over the side of the highway”. Joel explains that he had forgotten to tighten a key screw which often isn’t necessary, but under high winds is essential. Right now, the project is on pause as the team tries to raise money to repair the solar array and reassess how they want to proceed.”
images from Routedelsol fb