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Toyota is playing with a solar roof for its next electric cars

By nanoguy · 13 replies
Jul 6, 2019
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  1. When the Japanese automaker isn’t busy building self-driving stores on wheels and flying cars, it keeps its hands busy trying new ideas on how to make electric vehicles last longer on the road before you need a charge. The company recently started publicly testing a new version of its solar roof for the Prius PHV, which can add up to 44.5 km (27.6 miles) of range a day, or even up to 56.3km (35 miles) when using the auxiliary power that also drives AC, navigation, and other systems.

    The pilot project slated for later this month will test how it behaves in a range of weather and driving conditions, and is made in collaboration with Sharp and Japanese national research organization NEDO. The former is the manufacturer of the solar cells that are just 0.03mm thick and can supply up to 860 watts of power, enough to charge the car while driving.

    The previous 2016 model had a less efficient battery cell conversion versus the current one's 34%, and thus was only able to charge when parked, while the relatively modest power output could only add a range of up to 6 km (3.7 miles) a day, or seven times less than the current prototype.

    Toyota hasn’t said anything about when we can expect to see the redesigned solar roof on a commercial product, but judging by the company’s own plans to develop a pure electric car by 2022, this might align perfectly within that timeline.

    It’s worth noting that while these solar car efforts are laudable, Toyota faces competition from Hyundai and even startups such as Lightyear who are working on a more visually-appealing car with a more capable solar roof. Those efforts are not set to hit the roads until 2021 at the earliest, which is ample time for the Japanese to figure out a good design nonetheless.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,390   +3,779

    Cost vs. Benefit Ratio on this one? I'm guessing it won't cut the mustard ......
  3. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 821   +405

    I got an Idea for car makers that add solar panels to their cars. It is an app that allows anybod yto charge their phones of the cars, any cars for a small fee that goes toward card owner.
    You scan the code on a car and then put it on a roof of the car and charge it for 40 70 cents.
    Toyota takes a tax of each sale but car owner whose car got used for phone charging gets some cash.
  4. ChrisH1

    ChrisH1 TS Addict Posts: 139   +67

    ... as long as you park the car in the sun. And it isn't dirty. And the sun is shining.

    Don't have an accident, panel repair isn't going to be cheap!
  5. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,240   +901

    Solar roofing can always be beneficial because it can offset the amount of energy being used by the airconditioner.

    New Solar panels, especially in desert states with lots of sunlight and little cloudy weather can actually trickle charge the cars.

    I'd really like to see a Tesla Model 3 with an entire solar roof that could just sit in the sun and slowly trickle charge the battery.
    toooooot likes this.
  6. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,833   +678

    Yea at 3 mph
  7. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 821   +405

    New jobs in car shining are coming!
    Like back in time when people were cleaning windshields and headlights.
    Now they will be cleaning solar panels :D
  8. Knot Schure

    Knot Schure TS Addict Posts: 267   +116

    I always knew this was coming, especailly for the HGV vehicles, with their completely flat roofs, ripe for solar estate.
  9. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,550   +1,767

    Being able to use this to run the AC on hot summer day sitting in the parking lot at work without draining the battery would almost convince me to buy one for that reason alone.
  10. netman

    netman TS Addict Posts: 322   +101

    If auto drive technology is advanced enough nowadays for a car to travel without a driver input as it is claimed, why not covering the windshield with solar panels also and get 2-3 more miles of range?!
  11. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,401   +627

    So in case you're awake when you crash into something, you get to see what it is. :)
  12. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 679   +495

    Just short of 35 miles. That's roughly 12,700 "free" miles per year. That's actually really good but we'll have to watch for the price increase accordingly!

    Strangely this will likely give people a good reason NOT to park inside the safety of a garage. It will also make people cry just a liiiiiiiitle more when it hails.
  13. ChrisH1

    ChrisH1 TS Addict Posts: 139   +67

    Well, if it was my Tesla, 56km is going to be 10kW/h (being generous) which is going to be $1.70 given I charge my car at night right now (again, generous - I charge from my solar where possible) ... so those shiners better be cheap!
  14. DukeJukem

    DukeJukem TS Enthusiast Posts: 83   +46

    What if the sun doesn't come out that day?
    SpeedofLight likes this.

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