Today is an amazing time when conceptual projects become a reality. That’s what happened with an energy-saving project of the two world renowned companies – Panasonic and Toyota. Now, thanks to a solar panel roof, the car can work not only on fuel but also on alternative energy.
Solar roofs in cars had previously been purely experimental projects, which were created just for concept cars. Toyota became the first major automaker that offered a similar option on the Prius hybrid car in 2012. Currently, Panasonic has developed a photovoltaic solar roof for the latest model of Prius PHV, which will increase the capacity of the car from 50 watts to 180 watts.
Such an innovative 180-Watt roof, which was called HIT Photovoltaic Modul, has been designed to enable the recharging of the Li-ion power battery, along with the standard 12-volt lead-acid batteries. What is particularly noteworthy is that the Panasonic solar roof is resistant to high temperatures, which usually lead to lower energy production.
The previous Prius solar roof generated little electricity: it was enough for the air conditioner operation or the auxiliary charging of the 12-volt battery. Now Toyota representatives claim that the 180-Watt roof will improve the car’s efficiency by 10 percent, adding up to 3.5 km every day.
Solar panels are attached to the curved roof glass and then filled with transparent resin. Such roofs have not yet passed the crash tests in the US, so the sunroof option of Prius is currently available only in Japan and Europe. However, the company continues to work on implementing its innovation on American models. The cost of such option is at £ 1500 ($ 1,840).
Panasonic has become a major player in the battery market, when it, in cooperation with Tesla, founded the Gigafactory company, which will soon begin to produce a record number of lithium-ion automobile batteries.
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has stated that the future Tesla Model 3 will probably have a sunroof option. And now, when Panasonic has presented its new solar roof, the two companies will probably start working together on this project.