Toyota has announced that the official testing of its solar-powered Prius will begin in late July 2019. Trials set to take place in the Tokyo area will test the cruising range and fuel efficiency of the car model, which has been equipped with high-efficiency solar panels. Teaming up with Toyota for the testing is the electronic products manufacturer Sharp Corporation and NEDO, a Japanese government agency focused on promoting the research of environmental and energy technology.
The demo car produced for public road trials will include a solar battery panel created by Sharp and developed for a NEDO-led project. Thanks to the thin design of the efficient panels, Toyota was able to install them on the roof, hood and rear hatch door of the new model to enhance the efficiency. The new and improved utilization of these panels means that the car will be able to achieve a conversion efficiency of over 34 percent and capable of delivering an impressive 860 watts of power.
Apart from the obvious environmental advantages of using solar power in cars, the supercharged Prius can also provide consumers with an improved range. According to a study conducted by Volvo, 65 percent of electric vehicle drivers experienced “range anxiety” after purchasing an EV, making it one of the leading reasons why potential electric vehicle buyers hesitate on buying one. The anxiety is understandable — what if you run out of power in the middle of nowhere with no charging station in sight? The application of solar-powered cars has the potential to lessen those worries, as this Toyota Prius demo model aims to charge both while parked and while being driven.
Toyota will evaluate the test runs on the number of times the car needs charged and the reduction of carbon emissions and share results with NEDO and Sharp as the collaborative group continues to work toward improving the sustainability of transportation.
Images via Toyota