Solar powered Prius

It may look like a waffle from above but get used to it.

The day may not be far away when we’ll be seeing loads of these types of cars on the roads.

This is, of course, a solar powered car similar to the Lightning One, also featured in The Real Motormouth.

Based on a Toyota Prius it’s the result of a collaboration between Toyota, the Sharp Corporation and NEDO (National Research and Development Organisation) in Japan.

It’s planned to start public road trials of the car before the end of July to assess improvements in the cruising range and fuel efficiency of electrified vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries.

Sharp has used its high-efficiency solar battery cells from an earlier NEDO-led project to create battery panels suitable for the Prius.

Toyota has installed them on the roof, bonnet, tailgate and other parts of its Prius Plug-in Hybrid that already uses solar power.

By enhancing the efficiency of the solar battery panel and expanding its onboard area, Toyota was able to achieve a rated generation output of around 860W, a figure nearly five times higher than the production Prius Plug-in with solar power.

In addition to substantially upgraded power generation output, the demo car also charges the battery while the vehicle is parked, as well as when it’s being driven.

This development is expected to lead to considerable improvements in electric-powered cruising range and fuel efficiency.

The current solar powered Prius harvests enough power, when parked, to drive the car 6.1km every day. The test version produces 44.5km when parked.

Toyota plans to conduct the trials in various driving conditions in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo and other areas. Data will then be used in the development of an on-board solar recharging system.

The goal is to contribute to the creation of a new solar battery panel and find solutions for energy and environmental issues.

By using a solar battery with a conversion efficiency of 30%-plus, zero annual recharging and the benefits from a reduction in CO2 emissions are the targets of these first tests.

The demo car is equipped with a solar battery panel that uses several solar battery cells with a conversion efficiency of 34%-plus, compared to just 22.5% now.

The solar battery cell is a film of 0.03mm in thickness, making it possible to be installed efficiently over curved parts of the car.

The rated power generation output of the demo car is approximately 860W, compared to the current solar powered Prius’s 180W.

The future’s looking brighter, but then it would do with the help of the sun.