North Korea has unveiled on state television a bus that reportedly runs on solar power. The bus, which operates in the western city of Nampo, has 32 solar panels which power an electric motor through a bank of 50 batteries, the Korea Times reports, citing North Korean TV. “The vehicle can carry 140 passengers at 40km/h (25mph),” said Jeong In-sung, the city’s technology committee spokesman.
However, no one knows if the vehicle is completely powered by solar, or if it has to be plugged into a charging station before it can take to the road, according to North Korea analysis website NK News. One export in solar technology tells the US-based site that the claim of 140 people riding a fully solar-powered bus has “no credibility”.
The development reflects one of hundreds of new slogans unveiled by the communist state in February, one of which urged citizens to: "Develop and make effective use of wind, tidal, geothermal and solar energy!"
With no oil industry of its own, North Korea has to rely on other means for its fuel needs, and developments such as the solar-powered bus are presented as proof that the country's policy of self-sufficiency is working. As well as the bus, Pyongyang's KCNA news agency has recently lauded the development of a new waterproof paint "made with locally available materials", and a new way of manufacturing shoes.