Toyota to Test New and Improved Solar Power Cells Vehicle System

Toyota, NEDO and Sharp announced they will test a new version of its solar power cells system that is much more efficient.

Toyota, the Japanese vehicle manufacturer, is trialing a new version of its solar power cells that improve the rate at which solar energy is converted. 

Toyota is teaming up with NEDO and Sharp to kick off public road tests at the end of July using a new version of its solar power cells.

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According to the companies Sharp modularized its high-efficiency solar battery cells to create an onboard solar battery panel. The system can convert solar energy at 34% which is higher than the 22.5% conversion rate for the current system found in its Prius PHV.  

Toyota said in a press release it was able to achieve an output of about 806 W*4 which is about 4.8-times higher when compared to the commercial model Prius PHV equipped with a solar charging system. The demo car also includes a system that charges the driving battery while the car is parked and in operations.

Toyota said that development alone will results in "considerable improvements" in electrically powered cruising range and fuel efficiency. Previously the Prius PHV charged the battery only when the vehicle was parked. 

New Solar Battery Cell Can Fit Larger Surface

With the new version, Toyota is using a solar battery cell film that can be placed over more of the vehicle increasing the conversion rate. The solar battery cell is a thin film about 0.03 mm thick. Because it is so thin, it can fit the curves of the vehicle including the roof, hood, and rear hatch door. 

Toyota plans to conduct trials with the new version of its solar power cells in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo and other areas. Data, including the power generation output of the solar battery panel and the amount the drive battery is charged, will be used in the development of an onboard solar recharging system. 

Toyota, Subaru Working Pure Battery Electric Vehicles 

This isn't Toyota's only efforts when it comes to solar-powered vehicles. In June Toyota and Subaru announced a partnership to develop an electric drivetrain platform to enable pure battery electric vehicles.  The two companies said they will jointly develop a C-segment-class BEV SUV model which will be sold under each company's own brands. The two have been partnering since 2005 and have worked together on development, production, and sales. 

With the race on to dominate the green vehicle market, car manufacturers have been inking partnerships in recent months. Jaguar Land Rover and BMW announced an agreement to develop electric vehicles last month as did Ford and Volkswagen earlier in the year. 

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