MINILUX is a concept car that aims urban dwellers that use their vehicles mostly when they have free time, using other means of transport during the day. The concept was designed by Jukka Rautiainen and its key feature is the ability to harvest solar energy by using high-efficiency photovoltaic panels. The driver can pug the vehicle in to a domestic or public access point, thus providing two ways of charging the batteries. If driven across Central Europe and the east coast of the United States, the car would run 9,000 miles a year on solar energy, while in sunny regions like California and Australia MINILUX would be able to achieve a solar powered range of 16,000 miles.
It is worth mentioning that high efficiency Gallium Arsenide solar cells, included in the opening roof panels, are the ones that generate energy for the vehicle. Such solar cells are used today in a number of space applications. The panels double the roof’s surface area of the car. In addition, these high-efficiency solar cells are incorporated in solar curtains covering the whole window. The car looks as a two-seater, but one can create two backseats but simply pressing down a part of the deck located in the back of the front seats.
It would be interesting to note that the car’s backseat mechanism along with the solar curtains take advantage of shape memory plastics. Small trusses made from such type of plastics straighten and contract as a result of an electric impulse within the material, thus making it possible for the component to change shapes, remaining rigid when there’s no electric current. The wheels of the vehicle are airless, which makes them more durable and allows the driver to handle the car easier compared to traditional vehicles.