On this day in auto history - August 8th

Sun 8th Aug 2021

It was on this day in 1955 that pioneering engineer William G. Cobb of General Motors completed testing on the world’s first solar-powered car.

Three weeks later, Cobb's 15-inch long “Sunmobile” would steal the show when exhibited to gawking attendees of a month-long General Motors exhibition spread over 1 million square feet of space on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Cobb’s “Sunmobile” was made up of 12 selenium photovoltaic cells on a balsa wood body. An electric current was produced, which in turn powered a tiny motor.

Despite the limitations of the “Sunmobile”, it proved a conceptual success and inspired the idea of solar-powered vehicles to the masses.

In 1962, the first drivable solar-powered car was unveiled as a prototype by the International Rectifier Company but progress in the field has been surprisingly slow since.

Over 50 years on from Cobb’s “Sunmobile", a mass-produced solar-powered car has yet to hit the market anywhere in the world.