Profile America: Solar Roller 

Wednesday, August 31 — The 1950s may be recalled for many now-quaint things, but it was also a decade with antecedents for our current technological pursuits. On this date in 1955, William G. Cobb of the General Motors Corporation demonstrated the world’s first solar-powered car. This vehicle didn’t take the world by storm because it was a model a mere 15 inches long. The first solar powered car that could actually be driven was unveiled in 1962; a 1912 Baker electric car was fitted with nearly 11,000 individual solar cells on the roof to power the vehicle. Now, more than 50 years on, a fully practical solar-powered car remains a goal, but manufacturing automobiles, mostly powered by internal combustion, is a $111 billion a year business in the U.S. 

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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