The first nuclear car has not been built yet. But, a concept
vehicle named the Ford Nucleon was developed in the 1950's that
was supposed to one day be powered by nuclear energy.
In this modern era when fuels like petrol and diesel are fast
depleting there is a need to develop alternate fuel vehicles which
use other sources of energy. Scientists have been trying since
the 1950's to develop vehicles which use other forms of energy
such as nuclear energy or energy from hydrogen fuel cells (1960's).
Speaking of the nuclear energy being used in cars it was in the
year 1958 that Ford came up with this concept of a Nucleon car
which, in theory, employed a small reactor as a source of energy
without the use of an internal combustible engine. However this
was only a proposed model which was never produced in real life.
The first nuclear car was supposed to have a capsule fitted at
the rear end of the vehicle. The reactor at the end of the car
was just like that of a submarine with the only difference that
it was a bit smaller in size. Radioactive material such as uranium
would produce heat which will convert running water into steam
which could run a turbine. One of the turbines could be used to
boost the vehicle while the other could be used to run an electric
The capsule could be replaced at the rechargeable stations which
could be setup once the nuclear car was on road. Each capsule
was supposed to run for about 8000 Kms after which it needed a
replacement. Just imagine how economical the vehicle would have
become with this kind of efficiency.
Also it would be very safe and Eco friendly using proper shielding
that was provided to the capsule. It was however because of this
shielding effect that the nuclear car could not be produced practically
because the shielding material made the vehicle very heavy. The
vehicle would have no emissions but it would definitely have nuclear
waste which might be difficult to dispose off.
The passenger compartment had a cantilevered roof and a cab forward
style which would provide protection to the driver from the harmful
effects if any of the reactor. In1950's people were not aware
of the harmful effects of the nuclear energy and slowly with time
when it became clear that how dangerous nuclear energy was people
subsequently dropped the idea of producing the first car using
Also the design of the car was based on the fact that in future
lighter shielding materials and small reactors would be developed
which did not happen. Thereby this first nuclear car remained
only a concept and could not be made practically. However it was
a significant effort on part of Ford Motors to develop something
different and innovative.