Toyota Covers Prius Prime With Solar Panels That Also Charge Battery On The Move

Automakers are looking to maximize the driving range of their plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, and solar panels are the hottest solution right now — literally.

Toyota is well aware of that and has announced a plan to begin public road trials from late July 2019 with Prius PHV (aka Prius Prime in the U.S.) vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries.

The trials will take place in Japan and benefit from the support of Sharp Corporation and the country’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). As part of the program, Sharp will supply onboard solar battery panels using high-efficiency cells.

Also Read: Sono To Build Sion Solar Car At Former Saab Plant In Sweden

According to the automaker, the goal is “to assess the effectiveness of improvements in cruising range and fuel efficiency of electrified vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries.” Toyota installed the Sharp-supplied solar panels on the roof, hood, rear hatch door, and other parts of the Prius PHV to produce a demo car for public road trials.

Compared to the Prius PHV that’s already available with a solar charging roof system, the demo car is superior in every respect. At 860 W, the rated power generation output is 4.8 times bigger and the solar battery cell conversion efficiency exceeds 34 percent (versus 22.5 percent). Most importantly, the demo car uses a system that charges the driving battery both while the car is parked and when on the move.

This development is expected to lead to “considerable improvements in electric-powered cruising range and fuel efficiency.” More specifically, Toyota claims the experimental vehicle’s daily maximum charge to the battery while the vehicle is parked is equivalent to a driving range of 44.5 km (27.6 miles), compared to the production car’s 6.1 km (3.8 miles).

Things get better when the car is moving, as the daily maximum charge and power supply to the driving and auxiliary battery amounts to a driving range of 56.3 km (35 miles). The production Prius PHV’s solar charging system only supplies power on the move to the auxiliary battery, which powers the navigation and other systems.

Toyota will conduct the trials under various driving conditions in Toyota City, Tokyo, and other areas in its homeland. The goal is to use resulting data for the development of an onboard solar recharging system.

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  • antman70

    Oh no, they’ve wrecked it’s looks.

  • Bash

    I can’t believe they still do this stuff, solar power cars is a useless idea now, it was great at some point tho; decades ago, not any more.
    I see it much more practical and useful is to use the solar power to charge your EV car battery. But again that’s in some part of the world where sun is on an issue.

    • PhilMcGraw

      I actually think this could solve some issues. For instance, let’s say you drive into work and park but all of the electric outlets are taken. You could just park it in the sun and not have to worry about having enough charge for the drive home.

      Also this becomes useful when we also talk about new solid state batteries that will have a lot more range. People will be going on road trips eventually with EVs and being able to add mileage just by having the car out in the sun helps with overall range.

  • HD

    And someone called the Dutch startup a joke for putting solar panels on their car and making it extreme light weight… This is great stuff, and should be used on all cars. This is actual “self-charging”, unlike the hypocritical ad about the hybrids being self-charging.

  • Howfarr

    860W Peak power?
    so not even enough to boil a kettle or run any sort of power tool at all.

    Maybe if you left it out in the sun for a month it might charge up enough to move that 2 tonne car a couple of miles.. great

    • Prashanta Dhakal

      The Prime has ~6 KWh of usable capacity. At 860W, the battery would charge fully in about 7 hours and give you 25 miles of range. Obviously, you can’t charge it at its peak power level for 7 hours straight, but to assert that it’d take a month of charging to give it a couple of miles range is pretty loony.

  • Super Rob

    What’s the price for something like this? I’m going to guess it comes close to doubling the cost of the car.

  • Сафиуллина-Мохамед Рамазанов

    Finally I found a top tier manufacturer thinking this way

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