Our gearhead brothers over at Jalopnik recently got a chance to take the insanely expensive Protoscar Lampo, a solar-powered roadster, for a test spin.
The Lampo will never actually be for sale because Protoscar isn't an automobile manufacturer. Instead, the prototype was designed to show just what was possible with today's technology.
Because of that, the car doesn't quite drive like its pricetag might make you expect.
Driving the Lampo is not that different from driving any other car, apart from the lack of a gearbox. The "central selector," as it's called here, allows you to choose forward drive or reverse. There's also an "E"-mode where the car will brake using mainly the torque of the electric motors, maximising the energy recovery. This is not intended for regular braking, but works brilliantly holding speed constant or slowing down while driving downhill. The Lampo's main problem is that this is basically the only feature of the car that works as it's supposed to.
If you spend a six-figured amount on a car, you'll want it to fire on all cylinders or whatever that translates to in EV-speak. The Lampo doesn't. In theory its twin motors and battery packs running the front and back wheels separately are good for 268 HP and 325 Lb-Ft of torque, but for "technical reasons" the power output has to be limited to somewhere in the region of 60 % during our test drive. Maximum speed is supposed to be over 200kph, but it's been restricted to 120kph. Hard acceleration is also out of the question, as that may upset the batteries and cause all sorts of problems. Problems like fire.
Which is all fine, because again, this is a prototype. And it's still impressive that a solar car is out there. Just its existence promises that we'll see the good parts of this car in consumer autos at some point, with the bad parts left off. [Jalopnik]