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Posted on: July 11, 2019 at 7:19 pm
Last updated: July 11, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Toyota, Sharp, and NEDO to begin public road trials of electrified vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries

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Toyota has announced today that it will begin to test electrified vehicles fitted with new high-efficiency solar batteries from late July 2019. The vehicles are equipped with solar cells that Toyota claims can boost the range by 35 miles(56km) of range daily [1].

The Japanese automakers have partnered with NEDO and Sharp to start public road trials that will aim to ‘assess the effectiveness of improvements in cruising range and fuel efficiency of electrified vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries.’

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Over the years, Toyota has been trying to incorporate onboard solar panels in its electric car strategy and this may be a major breakthrough.

Although, it was originally an option in the Prius, only a 50- watt panel which helped to run the AC was used. In 2016, a $2,000 solar roof option was brought back by the Japenese automakers for its new Prius plug-in hybrid, however,  this version of the system had a power generation output of 180 watts. This could only feed the battery pack used to power the car on electric-only and add a few miles [2].

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Background

In April 2016, NEDO, a national research, and development organization was set up by the PV-powered Vehicle Strategy Committee. This committee is comprised of members from academia and industry. 

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.

Sharp and Toyota are active committee members [3].

Specifications

To facilitate the execution of this trial, Sharp modularized its high-efficiency solar battery cells (with a conversion efficiency of 34%+), previously developed for the NEDO-led project, to create an onboard solar battery panel. 

toyota

With the roof, back and the hood being covered with cells, Toyota says the solar system can generate 860 watts of power and add 35 miles (56.3km) of range daily.

And what’s more, the new feature ensures that this vehicle generates electricity not only when parked but also when the car is being driven.

Here’s a comparison of the commercial and demo model Prius PHV [4]:

Performance
Items
 VehiclePrius PHV (Solar charging system)Demo Car

Solar battery cell conversion efficiency 22.5% 34%-plus
Rated power generation output 180W Approx. 860 W
Maximum charge to the driving battery while the vehicle is parked (per day)* BEV-mode cruising range equivalent to 6.1 km BEV-mode cruising range equivalent to 44.5 km
Maximum charge and power supply to the driving and auxiliary battery while the vehicle is being driven (per day)* Supplies power only to auxiliary battery, which powers the car navigation system, etc. BEV-mode cruising range equivalent to 56.3 km

*  Maximum amount of charge generated by the solar charging system while the vehicle is parked or being driven, converted into traveling distance according to the JC08 Japan test cycle. Calculated based on the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association Labeling Guidelines (FY2016), taking into account the various losses incurred in onboard systems. Solar radiation amount calculated based on the daily data of the average year between 1990 and 2009 in the Nagoya district 

Source: Toyota

Trials

toyota-solar-powered

Trials will be conducted under various driving conditions in Aichi Prefecture, Toyota City, Tokyo, and other areas later this month. Various data, including the amount of energy used to charge the traction battery and the power generation output of the solar battery panel, will be obtained and verified, and then used in the development of a solar recharging system for vehicles. Toyota will share its findings with Sharp, who is supplying the solar cells and NEDO. If this technology makes it way to the market, it will be a game changer for eco-friendly inner city driving. 

Sources:

  1. Toyota testing hybrid Prius fitted with solar cells. Retrieved from https://www.electrive.com/2019/07/04/toyota-testing-hybrid-prius-fitted-with-solar-cells/. 4 July 2019.
  2. Lambert, Fred. Toyota starts testing high-efficiency solar cells for electric cars, says could add 35 miles of range. Retrieved from https://electrek.co/2019/07/05/toyota-solar-electric-car/. 5 July 2019.
  3. NEDO, Sharp, and Toyota to begin public road trials of electrified vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries. Retrieved from https://www.greencarcongress.com/2019/07/201900705-nedo.html. 5 July 2019.
  4. NEDO, Sharp, and Toyota to Begin Public Road Trials of Electrified Vehicles Equipped with High-efficiency Solar Batteries. Retrieved from https://global.toyota/en/newsroom/corporate/28787347.html. 4 July 2019.

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Stacy Robertson
Writer and researcher
Stacy Robertson is a writer and researcher with a B.A and an M.A in English Studies, and a strong will to literally touch all areas of life especially health by her own chosen form of artistic expression. Stacy has authored several articles on a range of different topics concerning nutrition plans and diet benefits for different kinds of people.

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