Toyota Is Testing out a Solar-Powered Prius

Toyota, in collaboration with NEDO and Sharp are going to start road testing a solar-powered car by the end of the month.

The car in question combines high-efficiency solar batteries cells arranged on panels installed on the roof, hood, rear hatch door and other parts of a Toyota Prius PHV.

It generates an output of 860W, nearly 5 times higher than the solar charging system outfitted on the regular Prius PHV. These panels are able to charge the car whether it is in operation or shut off and parked.

Performance comparison of the commercial and demo model Prius PHV

Trials will begin in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture as well as in other unspecified areas with data from the tests being shared with NEDO and Sharp.

This news comes a week after the reveal of ‘Lightyear One‘, a completely solar-powered luxury vehicle that’s set to go on sale in 2021 for a cool 119,000 euros.

For more on this story, here’s some information on the project:

Background

In April 2016, NEDO, a national research and development organization, set up the PV-powered Vehicle Strategy Committee, which is comprised of members from industry and academia. With the goal of finding solutions to energy and environmental issues in the transport sector, the committee’s research focuses on solar power systems. Sharp and Toyota are also active committee participants. The achievements the committee has made thus far include estimates on the potential to achieve an output of 1 kW in vehicles, despite the limited space for installing power systems, by using a solar battery module with a conversion efficiency of 30 percent-plus, zero annual recharging depending on usage patterns, and estimated benefits from a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Profile of demo car

The demo car is equipped with a solar battery panel that utilizes several solar battery cells with a conversion efficiency of 34 percent-plus. The shape of the module, environmental durability, surface materials, and other factors are based on specifications for driving trials implemented by Toyota. The solar battery cell is a thin film about 0.03 mm in thickness. This makes it possible to efficiently install the film to fit the curves of parts with limited space, including the vehicle roof, hood, and rear hatch door. The rated power generation output of the demo car is approximately 860 W.

Previously, the Prius PHV charged the driving battery only while the

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