Toyota tests PHEV range improvement through solar cells

July 08, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
Toyota tests PHEV range improvement through solar cells
Toyota is working with NEDO and Sharp in Japan on public trials of an electric vehicle using a new generation of high efficiency solar cells to boost the range.

Sharp has modularized its high efficiency solar cells that have a conversion efficiency of over 34 percent. The cells, developed for a NEDO-led project, to create an onboard solar battery panel, and Toyota installed this panel on the roof, hood, rear hatch door, and other parts of its "Prius PHV". These use a triple junction architecture with indium gallium phosphide (InGaP), gallium arsenide (GaAs), and indium galdlium arsenide (InGaAs).

The demonstation solar car achieved a rated power generation output of around 860 W, which is approximately 4.8-times higher in comparison with the commercial model Prius PHV equipped with a solar charging system. For the first time the output of the solar cells can be used to power the batteries whilst it is driven, rather than the auxillary systems in the car. This is expected to lead to considerable improvements in electric-powered cruising range and fuel efficiency, adding 44km to the range.

Toyota is starting trials of the solar car under various driving conditions in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo, and other areas. Various data, including the power generation output of the solar battery panel and the amount the drive battery is charged, will be obtained and verified, and then used in the development of an onboard solar recharging system. The aim is to contribute to the creation of a new solar battery panel market, including the transport sector, and find solutions for energy and environmental issues.

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