Toyota tests solar-powered Prius in the search for a plugless electric car

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Toyota, will be shown at the Bangkok Auto Salon 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Inspired by the new ultra-thin solar panels are being developed for a spacecraft, a project led by Toyota Motor Corp. is experimenting with a sun-powered Prius, which it is hoped will one day not require any plug-in.

The Japanese government funded the demonstration project with the to the Toyota engineers to be equipped with solar panels designed by Sharp Corporation in the hood, the roof, the rear window and the spoiler to see the amount of juice from the sun’s rays can be generated.

The electricity from the panels goes directly to the battery, so that the Prius can be recharged while it is moving, or where you can park your car.

On a good day, the charge is sufficient for up to 56 kilometers (35 miles) of the trip, rather than the 47 miles driven in a day by the average American, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

However, the efficiency drops off quickly when it’s cloudy or even when it’s too hot. If it is used in real-world driving in these conditions, the Prius would have to be plugged in to recharge.

The solar cells are super slim 0.03 mm, which makes them pliable enough to form fit around the body of the car. The engineers needed to create a buffer between the cars in the cells, in order to protect them, so that the actual solar panel modules closer to an inch thick.

The trunk of the car was filled with batteries for the solar panels, and the addition of an added weight of about 80 kg (180 lb).

The advantage of the whole package is lighter, and pulled down from the extremely high-cost one of the biggest challenges in terms of technology, ” says Satoshi Shizuka, Toyota’s lead engineer on the project, and to add to that, the marketing will probably continued to be “the way”.

Report by Kevin Buckland; Editing by David Dolan and Edwina Gibbs

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