Chrysler VP Predicts Solar-Powered Cars (1958)

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The current crisis in the American auto industry has led to louder (though long-standing) charges that it did not do enough to produce fuel-efficient vehicles using cutting-edge automotive technologies. Given Chrysler's bankruptcy filing, and recent sale to Fiat, it seems appropriate that we look at what the auto industry was telling the American public about the future of cars 50 years ago.

This February 9, 1958 edition of the sunday strip Closer Than We Think by Arthur Radebaugh quotes James C. Zeder, a Chrysler vice-president. Mr. Zeder predicted that in the years ahead solar-powered cars would be feasible and that the expanding knowledge of nuclear and solar energy would bring more abundant power to people everywhere. The full text of the strip appears below. As always, thanks to Tom Z. for the color version of this panel.

Detroit, Feb. 7 — The automobile industry may be producing cars driven by solar power in the years ahead, James C. Zeder, Chrysler vice-president, predicted today.

"We know how to get electrical energy from sunlight by means of silicon converters," said the Chrysler engineering expert. "If we continue to increase the efficiency of these converters, and if we are able to develop small, efficient energy storage cells solar powered cars will be feasible."

Zeder added that expanding knowledge of nuclear and solar energy is "bringing into sight" more abundant power for people everywhere.


Tomorrow the sunmobile may replace the automobile. The power of bottled sunshine will propel it. Your solar sedan will take energy from sunrays and store it in accumulators that work like a battery. This power will drive your car just like gasoline does today.


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