Will Electric Cars Soon have Solar Roofs? Toyota and Tesla say Yes.
by Joe Romm –
Advanced Panasonic solar modules triple the output of Toyota’s previous solar roof.
Last week, Panasonic announced an advanced solar panel system that will debut on the 2017 model Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid in Japan (the Prius Prime).
It is “the first commercially available, mass-produced passenger car to feature an optional solar charging system,” PV magazine explained.
Panasonic notes that, previously, rooftop solar cells had outputs of only “several tens of watts.” So they were used only for ventilating parked cars and “auxiliary charging” of the standard 12-Volt lead-acid battery.
But improvements in solar efficiency combined with advanced design and “technologies to laminate three-dimensional curved glass” have allowed a high output — some 180 watts, which is more than triple the output of the previous solar roof.
As a result, this battery can charge the lithium-ion powertrain batteries, providing up to an additional 3.7 miles of range on a sunny day. That may not seem like a lot, but it is a large fraction of the daily commute of a great many people, which could result in a big boost for fuel efficiency.
And as solar panels and electric vehicles get cheaper and more efficient, the potential range boost from a solar roof is likely to grow.
The solar roof option will initially only be offered on Japanese models until Toyota and Panasonic develop an improvement to the reinforced curved glass panels, which would not pass U.S. rollover standards.
@elonmusk Folks are misinterpreting your words about using in-house glass tech on Model 3, They think you’ll embed solar panels in the roof!
Since Panasonic has famously partnered with Tesla on its Gigafactory — and since Tesla has already developed an all-glass roof for its Model S that gets a five star rating in rollover testing — advanced solar-roof technology may make it into U.S. showrooms quite sooner.