2019 Toyota Prius Solar Cells
Peter Neilson's picture

How the Toyota Prius Is Upsetting The Market, With Solar Power

Toyota Prius took the automotive industry by storm when it took over the hybrid segment back in 2000. It made waves that other car makers have struggled to compete with. Even now when things look as if the playing field could become pretty even, Toyota pulls another ace from their sleeve, this time they have gone solar.
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People ask me all the time if I ever get bored of writing about Prius. I usually laugh and tell them, do you think Henry Ford ever really wanted to make anything else other than a model T? Do you think Elon Musk, or Nikola Tesla, or Albert Einstein ever got bored of changing the world? While I am no Elon, Tesla, or Einstein, I am someone who does appreciate world changing technology. Prius is about to do that again.

Hot off the press

Straight from the pressroom at Toyota, there has been an announcement made to take the worlds favorite hybrid and make it even more desirable. Taking high efficiency solar cells and incorporating them into the popular plug in would not only extend the range of it, but it would also charge while driving, while sitting, and well pretty much any time the sun was beaming down on top of the hood, roof and trunk.

The road testing which is slated to start sometime this month, will set out to try and get the Prius more fuel efficient and increase the cruising range. So, what is the big deal? Think about where the industry is headed already. Prius the "before" car still can improve and test out technology on a solid base platform as other technologies develop.

This would continue to help Prius be the hybrid we all know and love, while still giving the engineers a little more time to make the right electric car of the future. Not to mention if we can prove this technology works, and works well, as battery tech improves we can then use this method to extend the range while driving even further. This will make sunny days driving even better when you can continually cruise from destination to destination without having to stop and charge.

Getting Better With Age

Could the Toyota Prius really get better? Of course it can and it has been getting better every iteration that has come forth. Not only are they engineered pretty darn well, but they becoming a very popular "drivers" vehicle. Meaning that as people begin buying up ones that no one else seems to want, there will be a following, greater than what we see today.

I am really excited about Prius making waves again. Toyota really never does disappoint when they put their minds into changing the world one car at a time.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about new Prius Technology. Check out my other story 3 Top Tire Brands You Should Consider For Your Toyota Prius to find even more ways to make that fuel sipper go the extra mile.

Also Watch 5 Things To Know About Toyota Prius Battery Maintain it Well and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and at Certified Consulting.


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Comments

The cooling system for the Prius hybrid battery pulls air out of the passenger compartment. If you travel with a family pet 5 % of the time it is enough to foul the air filter . Regular maintenance under Toyota Care does not include cleaning this filter and the battery filled with rare earth elements overheats. Any one want to guess the longterm effects on our children??
Solar panels on an electric car is a cool idea, and it was already employed in the Fisker Karma, and will be again in the reborn Karma Revero. But the power generated is relatively small compared with the power used to drive the car any real distance, and it might also give people the wrong impression that the car can actually be run off of the onboard solar panels. Still, it is a huge visual sign that the car is electric powered, and a reminder that EVs can use renewable energy.
While, I agree that the Prius really was a game changer, there is one area they definitely need to improve. However, Toyota refuses to even think about it. Acceleration. Anything that takes more than 8.5 seconds to go from 0-60mph nowadays contributes to traffic backups on freeways. Those backups waste way more fuel than 1 million Prius can save. 0-60 tomorrow acceleration in the Prius is just plain unacceptable. I will stick to my Camry Hybrid that goes 0-60 in 7.8 seconds. Or go with a Nissan Leaf or Tesla that actually have real world performance...
I have a lead foot in addition to driving high speed to merge on expressways routinely.ATL traffic demands fast acceleration. I also have people tried to drag with me along the coast. My red Prius Touring always leaves them in the dust. Even when the weather is extreme, it takes off and leaves the pack behind. That kind of speed doesn't do anything for gas mileage, but hey - it's a Prius.
How many miles added at the best possible input rates and time if solar charging?
The miles from what Toyota has stated is around 27 miles which may not seem like a lot but that can be a full one way drive home for many people.
27 miles seems VERY high. I'd say maybe it would be able to charge maybe 1 mile an hour on a sunny day, so maybe 5-8 miles added on a good day, and that driving distance would be on level ground, at a neutral temperature, and not be on the freeway. I normally drive around 80 miles a day in commuting in my EV, and braking regeneration probably adds about the same 5-8 miles of range per day overall. It feels good to get "free power", but it's more of a helpful addition than a dramatic increase.