Toyota Testing New Solar Panels to Increase EV Range
【Summary】Toyota, with some help from Sharp and Japanese national research organization NEDO, covered a Prius with its latest solar panels that increase range by 27.7 miles a day.
Placing solar panels on electric cars makes plenty of sense. Lithium-ion battery packs are close to having a similar range to gasoline-powered cars, but they're still some distance off. Having high-tech solar panels that feed clean energy back into the vehicle would improve range for no additional cost. It seems like a great idea in theory, but in practice, it's a tricky thing to perfect.
Toyota's Been Perfecting Solar Tech
Back in 2016, Toyota had solar cells on the Prius PHV that was only offered in Japan. But now, the automaker is back with its latest batch of solar cells that are from a partnership with Sharp and Japanese national research organization NEDO. Once again, the solar panel cells will be placed on a Prius.
Working with NEDO and Sharp, Toyota set out to study how solar cells could affect the cruising range and fuel efficiency of a battery-powered car. The technology has been in the works for three years and began as part of the PV-powered Vehicle Strategy Committee. The goal of the committee is to achieve an output of 1 kW in vehicles through a solar battery module.
The new solar panels have been greatly improved from the ones found on the 2016 Prius. They measure in at 0.03 mm thick and, thanks to their more compact size, have been placed throughout the majority of the Prius' body, including the curvier parts of the body. Places like the rear trunk, hood, and vehicle roof have all been outfitted with solar panels. Together, they account for 860 watts of power output. That's a major improvement over the solar panels on the Prius from 2016 that only had a power output of 180 watts.
While the number of solar panels has a lot to do with the increase of total output, their conversion efficiency has increased, as well. The old solar panels had a conversion efficiency of just 22.5 percent. That figure has gone up in the new panels to roughly 34 percent.
Charging While Driving
Another major enhancement was made when it comes to charging. In the old Prius PHV, the solar panels would only get energy when the vehicle was parked. While helpful, it only accounted for less than 4 extra miles of total range, instead primarily assisting with running auxiliary items, like the navigation system, when the vehicle was standing however. The new solar panels have an innovative system that allows them to charge the vehicle while it's being driven. And now, range is up by roughly 27.6 miles.
Public road trials of a Prius with the new solar panels will commence this month. It's likely that, once again, the technology will be limited to Japan.
Toyota isn't the only company looking into solar cells to help power EVs. Dutch company Lightyear recently came out with a vehicle that has an extensive amount of solar panels for an extra 60 miles of range.
Vineeth Joel Patel
Joel Patel has been covering all aspects of the automotive industry for four years as an editor and freelance writer for various websites. When it comes to cars, he enjoys covering the merger between technology and cars. In his spare time, Joel likes to watch baseball, work on his car, and try new foods
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV’s Range Takes a Hit Compared to Regular Bolt EV
Hyundai, Kia to Build EVs in US as Part of $7.4 Billion Investment
Electrify America Outlines Third $200 Million Investment in California
Arrival, Uber Partner to Come Out With Electric Ride-Hailing Car
Study Finds Range Is Now the Top Priority for EV Shoppers
Senators Introduce SAFE Act That Could Mandate Driver-Monitoring Systems
Ford Mustang Mach-E Helping Brand Reach New Buyers
Tesla Looking to Introduce Full Self-Driving Subscription Soon
- Tesla's Latest 'Full Self Driving' Features May Go Live in Q2
- Tesla Challenger Lucid Motors to go Public in a $24 Billion SPAC Deal
- Toyota's Luxury Brand Lexus is Working on a New Fully-electric SUV
- Ride-Sharing Startup Revel is Launching a Transportation Service in New York City Using Only Company-owned Tesla Model Ys
- San Francisco Startup Ample Develops an EV Battery Swap Station that Can Replace Any Electric Vehicle Battery in Under 10 Minutes
- The Battery Technology in the Mercedes EQS Sedan Will Rival Tesla's Flagship Model S
- Motional & Derq to Partner on Technology That Provides a ‘Birds Eye View’ to Self-driving Vehicles at Busy Intersections for Safer Navigation
- China’s EV startup Xpeng is Demonstrating its Autonomous Driving Capabilities with a 7-Day, 3,000 km Road Trip Through China
- Tesla to Lose Around $240 Million in Revenue in 2021 as Automaker Stellantis Says it Will No Longer Need to Buy Emission Credits
- WaveSense Announces a $15 Million Funding Round to Accelerate Autonomous Driving Using Ground Penetrating Radar