This Prius can Harness the Power of the Sun God Ra

Illustration for article titled This Prius can Harness the Power of the Sun God Ra
Image: Toyota

The Egyptian Sun God, known by the name of Ra, rules over all parts of the created world, and can be seen in the heart of the noon day sun. We owe all things to him, including enough power to drive this prototype Prius PHV about 35 miles per day. Toyota worked with Sharp and research organization NEDO to develop this rolling prayer to the Egyptian deity, and it seems pretty cool, actually.

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Illustration for article titled This Prius can Harness the Power of the Sun God Ra

To make this project a reality, Sharp supplied a new high-efficiency solar battery cell to be tacked onto the top of the Prius. This new energy transfer system allows for a more than 34% efficiency conversion, which is significantly higher than the solar cells used in Toyota’s current Prius PHV (sold in the U.S. market as the Prius Prime) system. Another major change is that this new system allows the Prius to charge while driving.

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Illustration for article titled This Prius can Harness the Power of the Sun God Ra

Toyota says the Prius Solar-Powered Drive can produce approximately 860 watts of power from the solar cells only. Later this month, Toyota will be launching a handful of these solar cars for public road trials in Japan. The aim is to test cruising range, aerodynamics, and fuel efficiency in regular use.

Illustration for article titled This Prius can Harness the Power of the Sun God Ra

While the PHV remains a regular plug in hybrid with a gasoline engine, as well as the ability to charge overnight, the solar cells may add enough to the car to significantly reduce charging and fuel usage. For example, AAA states that the average American drives between 26.2 and 31.5 miles per day. If the Prius Solar-Powered Drive was to take over your average daily commute, and given a bright and sunshiney day with the car parked in the sun while you’re at work or home, it’s possible those could be zero impact driving days. No charging, no gasoline. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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DISCUSSION

whatupsaudi8
whatupsaudi8

I’m all for green-ifying transport (I happily own a Prius!), but 860W is probably the “at noon on the equator” number, and is still only barely more than a horsepower. Imagine leashing two pro cyclists to the front of your car chariot-style- that’s how much power you’re getting.

_Maybe_ this recharges 8kwh/day if you park it in an unshaded equatorial parking lot. Depending on prevailing power rates, that’s $1-$2/day saved.  Green-wise, you could probably do better spending the difference on a solar installation for your house.

The best arrangement for solar powered cars is for the solar panels to be put on a nice, cheap stationary mount on some nice, cheap desert land, rather than on a moving, size-and-shape-constrained car where they are going to be hit by road dirt, rocks, and get parked underground or in urban canyons.