Toyota was the first major automaker to offer Solar car roofs as option on its Prius hybrid plug-in model in 2012 and now Panasonic has developed a full-length solar photovoltaic roof available on the Japanese version of the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid.
According to Panasonic, the roof is a significant improvement over past solar automotive solar panels due to its significantly improved output by wattage from 50 W to 180 W.
Panasonic’s solar roofs have also been designed with a resistance to hot environments, which normally lead to a decline in output as the temperatures rise.
The previous Prius solar roof only generated nominal electricity: enough to power the ventilation fans when in park, and for use as an auxiliary charging source for the 12-V battery.
This new solar roof panel is capable of producing 180 watts of electricity, which is apparently enough to power car accessories (which weren’t specified) and also charge the lithium-ion batteries.
According to Toyota, this panel can add up to 3.7 miles of range a day to the car’s battery while parked, and it also helps charge the battery while the car is in motion.
The solar cells are laminated in a resin set atop the roof’s curved glass. The price range of the solar roof option runs US$1,840 for consumers in the UK. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated the coming Tesla Model 3 will probably have a solar roof option as well.