Chicago Restaurant First to Use Solar-Electric Car for Deliveries


Everyone’s going green, or trying to, and with gas prices soaring, consumer awareness of environmentally friendly vehicles has never been higher. It’s not just the Regular Joe car buyer that needs to cut down on gas purchases. Shipping and catering businesses can increase their profit margins if they can harness fuel-efficient technology as well.

We should probably applaud Sopraffina Café in Chicago for being the first business that we know of to do so. Today, on Earth Day, the restaurant and electric car company Zap are launching a 100 percent solar-electric catering truck, the first of its kind — according to the two — designed to make deliveries in the downtown Chicago area where traffic congestion and tight roads make the notion of a tiny electric truck — it looks like some sort of abandoned futuristic rickshaw, or a mini-pizza delivery truck — viable. Unfortunately for Sopraffina, we too live in Chicago, and we’ll be the first to remind them that our winter — of the dreary, grey, overcast kind — lasts, oh, seven months. How that little truck will handle such little sunlight and the effects of bitterly cold weather could be fun to watch.


Thank you for your business, Soprafina Marketcaffe! I'm curious why doesn't talk about who makes it?

no reason just forgot to add it in. we added Zap into the post now.

Thankz! Happy Earth Day!

alex Campbell

oh I wanted to mention that solar can trickle charge the batteries and help them last longer, plus they scream green.

"...a 100 percent solar-electric catering truck..."

I'm totally impressed by this but you need to notice the details. This phrase doesn't imply that all the solar panels (or even any of the solar panels) are ON the truck. I suspect that almost all of the energy used is gathered from solar panels on top of the restaurant... or maybe 100 miles away -- as long as it's on the grid, who cares?

But even though the zap trucks are amazing, they are not going to be driving around all day doing deliveries based on just the energy received from a solar panel *on the truck.* See for some ideas. In general, you cannot move a vehicle like this around the city on only the 200 W or so that the panel can provide.

Remember: 1 horsepower is 746 W. That is a lot of panel surface area. Maybe the best plan is to lease some space on a warehouse roof in the suburbs and put the panels there, feeding the grid. Then charge your batteries from the grid.

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