It seems that on a daily basis, new accomplishments are being made in terms of . And now, is making changes worth talking about. The company is getting ready to begin testing a new solar roof. This solar roof will be for a model and will add up to 44 and a half km of range in a single day to the vehicle you might otherwise know as a plug-in . The being utilized are the upgraded version of what was previously installed on their Prius PHV model.  

Powered by Solar Cells  

Produced by Sharp, the solar cells are merely .03mm in terms of thickness, but they are able to deliver roughly 860 watts of power. The size of the solar cells allows them to fit in smaller curves, for instance, the hood, rear hatch door, and the roof. Even cooler is the concept that these solar cells are able to charge a car while it is in motion. Imagine being able to charge your vehicle while you are driving it thanks to clean, solar energy.  

If you are wondering how the solar cells will function in various weather conditions, you are not alone – tests will be carried out in places such as Tokyo and Toyota City, where weather conditions certainly do vary greatly.  

While no information has been provided yet regarding commercial vehicles, testing is going to begin this month (July) on public roads. It will certainly be something that draws attention and hopefully sparks an interest when cars are covered in solar rooftops.  

Toyota – A Solar Star 

Toyota has been involved with solar energy previously. As a matter of fact, the company has even made solar panels for its cars in the past. You might remember that Toyota sold solar panels almost a decade ago (in 2010) which could be utilized in order to recharge a vehicle’s auxiliary battery. Note: this type of battery powers secondary systems such as climate control. But these new solar panels stand out because they provide more efficiency overall. Here’s what is meant by this – the solar panels are capable of producing practically five times the amount of power as the former model. This equates to providing more than seven times the amount of range.  

You might have heard of the  by Toyota, which is powered by hydrogen. But unless you count this vehicle, there are no pure electric vehicles produced by Toyota. For now, the solar roofs are intended for plug-in hybrids.  

Toyota realizes the significance of reducing carbon emissions, and believes they can reduce these emissions more by focusing on hybrids and utilizing battery production capacity to produce even more hybrids rather than producing a small number of completely electric vehicles. In June, the company made an announcement regarding plans to produce a drive train platform (all-electric) with Subaru, so an all-electric Toyota might be on the horizon.  

Solar Changes Coming to the Auto Industry 

Bearing in mind the comparatively slight power output one is able to attain by placing solar panels on the roof of a car in comparison to the roof of a building, coupled with the difficulties in doing so, it is understandable that the idea has not become widespread just yet. This does not mean companies are not trying. is a start-up, for example, with plans to begin bringing a solar car to customers within the next two years. Another major company, Hyundai, is going to start placing solar roofs on some cars in 2020.    

There are big solar changes coming to the automotive industry. Being able to charge a vehicle while driving is certainly a concept worth talking about. It is clearly ambitious of Toyota to install solar cells on the roof, hood and back of a vehicle, which can charge said vehicle while it is in motion. This would lead to improvements in fuel efficiency and a boost in the cruising range.  

It is going to be interesting to continue to follow solar news and to see the changes coming to light regarding solar energy. Would you drive a vehicle powered by solar cells? It is worth looking into, to say the least!  

Sources: 

https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/5/20683111/toyota-prius-plug-in-hybrid-solar-roof-range-electricity-energy-environment 

https://techxplore.com/news/2019-07-toyota-solar-panels-electric-cars.html 

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