It's not new to power electric vehicles with sunlight. In the near future, Sono Motors plans to start manufacturing of the Sion, a vehicle with solar panels integrated on its roof and hood. A new solar panel lately unveiled by Fraunhofer ISE that can be colored to match any car's paint. So Toyota's choice to experiment on its Prius Prime hybrid plug-in car with solar panels is not groundbreaking news. But Toyota definitely pushes the envelope when it comes to finding out what solar-powered cars can do.
The key to the experiment of Toyota is a collaboration with Sharp, an electronics company that provides the project with high-tech solar panels. According to CNET Roadshow, the panels from Sharp are 34% efficient— meaning they convert about a third of all the sunlight they receive into electricity. A typical solar panel that is commercially accessible today has an effectiveness of around 23%.
The solar panels are installed on a standard Toyota Prius hood, windshield, back window, and spoiler. They have been prepared to reach an average of 35 miles 56 kilometers while riding and 27 miles 43 kilometers while parked in experiments since last July. If you don't think that looks like a large deal, consider this. The median American travels 27 miles or less every day, meaning that during normal use a vehicle fitted with solar panels would never need to be plugged in.
Such solar panels of elevated effectiveness do not arrive inexpensive. Usually they are reserved for use on satellites where costs are not considered. The price of a solar-equipped vehicle today would probably be much higher than what most customers would want to pay for. But the solar panels of today are ten percent lower than what solar panels cost ten years ago. Toyota hopes that its tests will, over moment, drive down the price of automotive solar systems equally.
Add additional quick charging alternatives such as those accessible from ChargePoint, Tesla, and Electrify America, and electric car riders would never again have to worry about range anxiety or lengthy loading periods. And that would stimulate higher interest from those who would not consider buying an electric car today in electric cars.
Toyota hasn't been a leader in electric cars to this point, but that doesn't mean it won't be able to create a precious contribution to the potential electric car revolution, especially if its design department finishes developing vehicles that scare dogs and young kids.