Toyota’s New Solar Roof Could Add 28 Miles of Range to Prius Plug-In
Developed in partnership with NEDO, a Japanese national research organization, and Sharp, who manufactures the cells, Toyota’s new prototype can convert solar energy at 34 percent efficiency, up from 22.5 percent for the current model.
Even better, the prototype can also charge its own battery even as you drive it, while at the moment the current Prius can only provide power to the onboard auxiliary battery, which runs the radio, air conditioning systems, and navigation, while on the move.
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As a result, the new solar charging system is expected to add up to 27.7 miles of extra range for each day the Prius is parked outside in the sun. It can also add up to 35 miles of power to the driving system and aforementioned auxiliary battery.
The improvements were in part made possible thanks to a redesigned solar battery cell film that now measures only 0.03 millimeters, or fewer than 0.0012 inches. This allowed the engineers to put the film over a broader area of the Prius with more ease, such as around the rear hatch door, roof, and hood. In total, Toyota says it was able to achieve a power generation output of 860 W, about 4.8 times higher than the current commercial model.
The new tech is expected to hit Japanese roads in late July, and it will go through a gauntlet of tests to ensure its ability to perform as intended in a variety of conditions.
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