Featured Toyota testing new solar powered Prius

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by Prius Pete, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Prius Pete

    Prius Pete Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    133
    131
    1
    Location:
    Toronto
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    "Considering that Toyota rates the pure electric range of a standard-issue Prius PHV at 68 km (42 miles), or 25 mile EPA, the bottom line of this experiment is that with those new solar cells, owners of a plug-in Prius would no longer have to plug in. On a fair-weather day, the juice would be provided by the sun, a big improvement especially for people who don’t have their own garage. The solar roof could morph from mostly a marketing-device to a helpful feature."
    Suddenly, Solar-Powered Cars Have a Bright(er) Future - The Drive

    I'm not sure covering the rear window with a solar panel is a good idea. I would like to see panels that slide down over the front and rear windows when you park. At any rate, new, high-efficiency thin film solar cells could make for a practical solar-powered PHEV. My car gets parked outside and is only driven every few days. This would be great for me.
     
  2. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    5,073
    5,816
    0
    Location:
    near Brisbane, Australia
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    I saw that - my first thought - in the tropics, the first thing we think about is "where can I park out of the sun". Plus - here, most people have a garage or undercover parking - it would be an odd eventuality to have to move the car into the sun during the day. I guess we could leave the A/C running - but that then defeats the object of the exercise.

    Worth trying - but could be partly self-defeating, though would gain something while driving along.
    upload_2019-7-5_17-27-21.png
     
    Raytheeagle, dbf and Prius Pete like this.
  3. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    39,483
    10,966
    40
    Location:
    Canada
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Technology
    If this shows up on the next Prius, this will put Prius back on the forefront of "hybrid" technology... especially if the next gen becomes PHEV only.

    Alternatively, this could allow Toyota to put a bigger battery in a regular Prius and supplement the charge with solar. With 34% efficiency, even a small one like the one on the Gen 3 would be sufficient to keep the HV battery topped up.
     
  4. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    22,597
    12,478
    0
    Location:
    Huntsville AL with 2014 BMW i3-REx
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    If Toyota added an extra 75-100 hp to MG2 and battery (or SuperCap) to support the higher power draw up to 80 mph, it would finally reach the low end of the Tesla Model 3 performance range. Yet it would still have +56 MPG on the highway and more around town.

    I appreciate the solar cell effort but it jacks up the price of the car without saving to the 0-60 time. It seeks to find the 'greenies' and 'cheapies' but the Tesla and other pudding EVs are already competing for those customers. But if you get a Prius to the point that it matches my Model 3 performance at traffic light ... well that would be noticed.

    My goal is to get gasoline addicted 'gear heads' out of their rides into something that satisfies their 'acceleration' feel. If they'd wanted efficiency, well there has been at least two decades to scrape us out of that customer pool.

    Bob Wilson (a "cheapie")
     
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    80,805
    34,771
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    i appreciate the r&d, but don't expect anything by the next prius generation.

    the conundrum as mentioned above is how much time your car spends in the sun (both parked and driven)

    and how costs will compare to home solar and those it is available to, plus efficiencies in commercial solar production.
     
  6. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    12,349
    5,931
    90
    Location:
    Western Washington
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    "The solar Sharp-made solar cells are of the triple-junction compound type, sporting a conversion efficiency of 34 percent, ... a thin film of about 0.03 mm in thickness that can wrap around the curves ..."

    A terrestrial product of this sort is what I needed for an unrelated product proposal a decade ago. The closest thing then was a non-flexible Being-$pectrolab device meant for $pace application$, and the third junction being useless down at ground level due to obstruction by the atmosphere. The flexible thin films available then had only single digit efficiencies, significantly short of the energy harvest outputs I needed at that time.

    With additional squeezing on the load side that should be possible since, that thing ought to be workable now. If I were still in the industry, and if the company believed there was still sufficient demand ...
     
  7. Prius Pete

    Prius Pete Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    133
    131
    1
    Location:
    Toronto
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Those people can buy a Tesla, or maybe an EV from VW.

    Of course we don't know, but this seems like a pretty easy upgrade for Toyota. They already have a solar roof option on the Prius Plug-in (Prime). This just installs a better solar panel. I am also a "cheapie". The price of the option matters. Thin film flexible solar panels are now available on aliexpress for about US$1/watt (with 20% efficiency). These 30% cells would cost more but prices are coming down. Toyota does not sell the solar roof in North America since it shatters in a crash but they indicated they hoped to fix that. They have fixed the 5 passenger problem. If they can fix the solar roof and fix the cargo capacity they might have the vehicle the Prime was designed to be.

    A solar charged Prime might appeal to those without home charging. Commuters who park outside at work could gain EV range (in sunny weather). Buyers in areas with high-carbon grids (e.g. West Virginia), would have a vehicle that reduces their CO2. It also fits with Toyota's "you don't have to plug it in" message.

    One problem might be that people don't like the look of a car covered in solar panels (even though the finished product would surely look better than the picture). Many have strong opinions about how cars should look.
     
  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    80,805
    34,771
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    agree on looks.

    so we have some people whose cars spend much of the day in the sun

    some that can charge at home

    some with solar home option

    can the 5th seat remain with the solar roof?

    will they ever solve the hatch space problem?

    do we have any idea when the cost would make it attractive?

    does not sound like a big seller to me, even if they can pull it off, but still great r&d for the future.
     
    N.J.PRIUS and alanclarkeau like this.
  9. Prius Pete

    Prius Pete Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    133
    131
    1
    Location:
    Toronto
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    But sometimes you have no other choice. It's surprising that no car offers built-in sun shades that move over the windows when parked. Make that a "solar sun shade" and have the AC controlled by a timer or smartphone app so it comes on just when needed. No sunroof option of course. Toyota would have to come up with some paint options that look good with the panels.
     
  10. El Dobro

    El Dobro A Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2011
    6,218
    2,666
    1
    Location:
    NJ
    Vehicle:
    2014 Chevy Volt
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    80,805
    34,771
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    that guy makes me crazy

    looks like we've come a long way, and have even further to go
     
  12. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    5,073
    5,816
    0
    Location:
    near Brisbane, Australia
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    A lot of people put these on - my Dad did every time he parked and his Camry, at 25 yrs old still had one of the few un-cracked dashboards.

    upload_2019-7-6_10-56-23.png

    They are available for back windows, but harder to install, so we don't see them much. I just put a steering wheel cover on as I've had 3 cracked steering wheels in the sun. The first time I had a car with a leather wheel, I took it to get the windows tinted and the chap suggested a steering wheel cover should be used, as leather regularly in the sun is unlikely to stand up for a long life - plus they're often on a urethane or similar base material.
    upload_2019-7-6_10-59-1.png
     
  13. El Dobro

    El Dobro A Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2011
    6,218
    2,666
    1
    Location:
    NJ
    Vehicle:
    2014 Chevy Volt
    Who, Robert LLlweweeellyyleenn?
     
    bisco likes this.
  14. El Dobro

    El Dobro A Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2011
    6,218
    2,666
    1
    Location:
    NJ
    Vehicle:
    2014 Chevy Volt
    I've been using the Sun shields in my cars for years.
     
    alanclarkeau likes this.
  15. Prius Pete

    Prius Pete Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    133
    131
    1
    Location:
    Toronto
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    That's what I'm talking about. They do help. I got one when my AC broke (fixed now, $2400 later). But it is a hassle to put up. Sometimes the suction cups don't stick. Then you have to take it down, fold it up and stow it somewhere. Make it automatically slide out of the ceiling in the front and back. And put solar cells on it. The interior mirror could not be attached to the windshield but otherwise it doesn't seem more complicated than the fancy sunroofs they have.
     
    N.J.PRIUS and alanclarkeau like this.
  16. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    5,073
    5,816
    0
    Location:
    near Brisbane, Australia
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Dad's was easy to put on - just unfold it, put the bottom into the corner between the dashboard and windscreen - the top folds around the mirror and is held in place by the sun-visors.
     
  17. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    2,062
    1,339
    0
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    For the extra cost of getting solar panels, not always orientated to the sun and sometimes in the shade, it makes more sense to spend the money to locate them on your house roof with a 30 year time horizon. Putting solar on cars could be a waste of resources given that cars don't last that long and some cars get in wrecks.

    Do the math...start with the fact that 1 square meter of sunlight at 100% efficiency gives you about 1 kw.

    Mike
     
    #17 3PriusMike, Jul 6, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  18. JK919

    JK919 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2017
    43
    32
    0
    Location:
    Cary, NC
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Just turn on the lights in your garage to charge it!
     
  19. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    5,073
    5,816
    0
    Location:
    near Brisbane, Australia
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Yep - just like perpetual motion.

    Of course you could do that. Put SOLAR Panels on the roof of the garage, and have them light sufficient lights in the garage to charge the car. But - it'd be better to just put a power outlet in the garage powered by SOLAR & plug the PRIME in.

    I remember comments in the past in magazine articles time and time again "why can't a hybrid/EV just charge it's batteries as it drives along and so never have to plug in or fill with petrol?"
     
  20. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    1,988
    1,883
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    Clearly they just need to elongate the car a bit to get enough panels for useful charges. Maybe they'll do a 96-seat double articulated bendybus version of it?
     
Loading...