Augusto Pradelli began adapting a golf cart in his small workshop in the center of Maracaibo, capital of the oil state of Zulia (border with Colombia).
How did the idea of making solar cars in Venezuela?
He wanted his food establishment to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and a severe gasoline shortage that plagued that region for more than a decade, also affected by constant power failures.
“I needed to go shopping to keep my business active and open. The first thing I did was modify a golf cart that they gave me (…) In practice, it is useful for a small family, because it can transport four people and a load of up to 100 kilos”
At first, he used rechargeable batteries with electricity, but since blackouts are a headache in Zulia, he opted for panels.
Looking for resources
Today, Augusto Pradelli seeks funding and state authorization to mass-produce his cars solar. He has developed three prototypes that can reach up to 100 kilometers per hour.
the president of VenezuelaNicolás Maduro, in an official act, drove one of these carts, black, with blue rays painted on the bodywork.
- “100% Venezuelan technology!“, Celebrated the president.
“The great dream would be to be able to produce them, from scratch, in Venezuela. I think yes it can“, says Pradelli, who claims to have investors to finance the project if it passes the required procedures.
How much does one of these vehicles cost?
Perhaps they are not so cheap, admits Pradelli, since their cars solar They cost between $5,000 and $7,500, which is the average value of a used vehicle in this country.
In the long term, there are notable savings in fuel and maintenance costs, says this man who gained notoriety more than 30 years ago with the premiere of “Joligud” (play on the word Hollywood), a film set in Maracaibo that explores regionalist pride of its inhabitants, in an area where oil exploitation began in his country in 1914.
This was the evolution of the filmmaker’s invention
With the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, which led to a peak in gasoline shortages, which only managed to be overcome a couple of months ago, Augusto used his modified golf cart to transport his employees and buy supplies for his restaurant.
The first model he developed used a fuel-efficient motorcycle engine, but relied on gasoline.
- The second used electric batteries, but it was not as fast.
“One thing leads to another and then I asked myself: could it be that I can improve it?”
He then built a prototype that reached a speed of 40 kilometers per hour and traveled 100 kilometers per day, with a domestic charge of 110 volts.
- Having fulfilled that objective, Pradelli had a new concern: to stop depending on the electrical flow.
“And there was the sun (…) and we made a food cart with panels. That cart is loaded with the sun, it’s like a ‘drip’ that falls into the tank”
The result was a hybrid vehicle that can switch, at the discretion of its driver, from fuel to electricity and from electricity to consuming energy from the sun.
“A battery pack costs up to $2,500, but that, if you know how to manage it, can last you three to five years. I already saved 3 thousand dollars for each car”
The advantages of its creation
Maintenance is simple, which reduces expenses in mechanical refractions, since Maracaibo hybrids do not have a carburetor or alternator. In addition, they are safe, since successful tests have been carried out in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the local University of Zulia (LUZ).
“They are small, but no matter how fragile they look, if you crash you will not be killed”