Solectria was a company committed to building electric vehicles that would change the world. Founder and CEO James Worden and his cars regularly won the annual American Tour de Sol race for electric vehicles. Founded in 1988 to sell components to solar raycers, the company advanced to EV conversions, and finally produced the Solectria Sunrise, the most efficient and advanced electric vehicle to date.
The Sunrise is a real-world example of Amory Lovins' "hypercar" concept. Conventional cars are built with cast iron and stamped steel; cheap, but heavy. Aircraft, race cars, speedboats, and other high performance vehicles instead use high-strength composites, improved aerodynamics, and advanced construction techniques to make them lighter, stronger, and safer. A hypercar built this way can be half the weight of a conventional car. Half the weight means it needs half the motor, half the batteries, and uses half the energy for the same or better performance. This also translates into a much lower cost.
The goal was to partner with a major automaker to produce the Sunrise, much like General Motors had done with Aerovironment to produce their EV1. But, it was not to be. Just as the Sunrise was nearing completion, California backed down on its ZEV mandate. Freed of the need to build EVs, the automakers rushed to recall and crush their prototype EVs, and cancelled all further EV development. With no hope of finding a customer for their Sunrise, Solectria sold its electric vehicle component business to Azure Dynamics Inc. (now out of business), and continued as Solectria Renewables to produce grid-tied inverters and other renewable energy products.
In 2005, James Worden put the remaining unassembled Sunrise parts, molds, and documentation up for sale. Bob Rice formed the Sunrise EV2 Project team to pool our resources, and purchase these parts and rescue the Sunrise from oblivion. We have been working ever since to find a way to make this remarkable and innovative vehicle available.
The Solectria Sunrise leaving on its record setting NYC to Boston run, with James Worden at the wheel. (Photo courtesy of Clarke Taylor)
Links to Solectria Sunrise information
Specifications of the 1997 Solectria Sunrise
The Solectria Sunrise development team; Spring 1998. From left to right: Steraen Hardy, Wayne Kirk, Alec Stevens, Guy Rossi, Mark Cardono, Jeff Fisher, John Rocters, Max Schenk, Gary Giammatteo, Ken Schia-Hughes, Clarke Taylor, Chris Anctil, and Vasilios Marcos (not visible; he took the photo).
The Sunrise EV2 Project, © 2007-2022 by Lee A. Hart. Created: 2/6/2008. Last updated: 6/20/2022.
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