Toyota, in partnership with Sharp and Japanese national research organization NEDO, has announced a testing project on a previously launched Japan-exclusive Prius PHV aka Prius Prime in the U.S.A. According to an official statement of Toyota, the goal is “to assess the effectiveness of improvements in cruising range and fuel efficiency of electrified vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries.”
For public road trials, a demo car has been prepared by the Sharp-supplied solar battery panels. The solar panels were installed on roof, hood, rear hatch door, and other parts of the Prius PHV. Toyota announced the public road trials to begin from late July 2019. The trial will take place in various driving conditions in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo and other areas.
It is not the first time Toyota has placed solar panels on their car tops. The commercial version of a car with onboard solar panels is already available in the Japanese market. The prior commercial version has solar efficiency of 22.5% however, this demo car’s prototype cells can convert solar energy at 34% and up, which is much better than the existing commercial version.
Moreover, unlike its predecessor, the car’s driving battery can be charged while the car is actually moving, recouping significant range while the vehicle is in use. The new system will provide up to 44.5 km (27.7 miles) of additional range per day while parked and soaking up the sun, and can add up to 56.3 km (35 miles) of power to both the driving system and the auxiliary power battery on board, which runs the AC, navigation and more.
Here are the specs in comparison with the system:
As compared to the Prius plug-in model equipped with a solar charging system, this testing car is capable of producing 860W which is a rated generation output. It is approximately 4.8 times higher than its predecessor, which was only possible when the efficiency of the solar battery panel was enhanced and onboard area was expanded. Moreover, it is expected that data generated by the solar battery panel’s and the time taken by the drive battery to be charged, will be gathered and verified which will be later used in the development of an on-board solar recharging system.