Toyota to Begin Testing Solar Prius

While its counterparts focus on batteries, Toyota continues to pursue cars powered by the solar energy variety, with the Japanese car brand announcing that it's ready to test the road-worthiness of its most advanced solar power system to date.

Scheduled for a late July run using a Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) demo model, the tests--which are being done in partnership with Sharp Corporation and NEDO, one of Japan's largest public research and development management organizations--will seek to evaluate the efficiency and performance of the solar batteries as well as the effectiveness of improvements in cruising range.

Back in 2016, Toyota brought solar power to the Japan-release Prius PHV, but the system to be tested is more advanced in a number of ways. For example, while the previous system had to be parked to be charged, the latest one can charge the vehicle as it is being driven.

Built by Sharp, the new solar panels will have films that are around 0.001 inches thin. The extreme thinness allows the panels to be added not only to the car's roof, but the side panels as well.


Toyota says Sharp's solar panels can deliver 860 watts of power and reach a conversion efficiency of plus-34 percent. The 860-watt output is 4.8-times higher than the commercial model Prius PHV, Toyota claims.

The panels aren't expected to provide all of the energy necessities of a car. Instead, they will be used in combination with plug-in systems to help alleviate fears of electric vehicles running out of power on the road.

As for when the results of the tests will be released to the public, Toyota offers no specific timeline, but says a selection of data results will be shared with Sharp, NEDO, and the latter's Vehicle Strategy Committee.

"The goal is to contribute to the creation of a new solar battery panel market, including the transport sector, and find solutions for energy and environmental issues," Toyota said about the purpose of the tests.

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