Report: Toyota Possibly Developing Solar-Powered Car

Illustration for article titled Report: Toyota Possibly Developing Solar-Powered Car

Remember reports Toyota was working on a solar-powered Prius? Maybe they weren't entirely wrong. According to The Nikkei, Toyota's secretly developing a vehicle powered solely by solar energy, some on the car and others not-so-much.

According to Japanese newspaper The Nikkei, Toyota is working on an electric vehicle that will get some of its power from solar cells on the vehicle, and that can be recharged with electricity generated from solar panels on the roofs of homes. The report goes on to say the automaker later hopes to develop a model totally powered by solar cells on the vehicle. All of this is of course completely done without citing sources.

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The Nikkei newspaper, however, did say it will be years before the planned vehicle will be available on the market. Yeah, like for-never. Seriously, we might be able to see this as a concept car at some point, but does anyone really think it's cost-efficient or energy-efficient enough of a technology to see the light of day beyond any but the world's sunniest markets? Just sayin'... (Hat tip to James!)

[The Nikkei via AP, The College Driver]

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DISCUSSION

Nice juxtaposition of the hardmount panel and the Prius. Aside from that, onboard power generation isn't going to be sufficient to drive a Prius.

If you leave it parked in one spot for several days and then drive it away, you will experience a significant boost in electric-only range. Even a simple panel mounted to the roof (and in my humble opinion, panels added to the dash and backlight) will boost the range about 8 miles per tankful, which isn't huge but not negligible either. But to build a more-or-less conventional car, driven solely by solar? Not without a quantum leap in solar conversion efficiency, which currently stands at about 30% in laboratory settings, and that's just a raw score for the panel alone. Add in the power hardware and losses mount rapidly.