The internet has been buzzing with a story that Toyota is working on an electric car (a redesigned Prius) that’s completely powered by solar energy. The story has originated from the Associated Press citing the Nikkei.
“According to The Nikkei, Toyota is working on an electric vehicle that will get some of its power from solar cells equipped on the vehicle, and that can be recharged with electricity generated from solar panels on the roofs of homes. The automaker later hopes to develop a model totally powered by solar cells on the vehicle, the newspaper said without citing sources.”
There is a problem here on a couple of levels.
First off there is not trace of the Nikkei story, and secondly to completely power a car with solar panels that it carries around on its own would take one massive solar array to charge in a reasonable (six to eight hours) amount of time.
By way of example the Tesla Roadster has a battery of around 50 kWh. A solar array to feed a battery of that size adequately would be bigger than most of those found on homes.
If Toyota has figured out how to retain a regular car shape while integrating enough solar panels to power the vehicle for anything close to the reasonable 100km, the that would be truly astonishing.
However, I could see adding a couple solar panels on the roof to help run ancillary electronics of the car, and increase the range of the hybrid battery in a regular Prius.
But an all-solar car? Not with today’s technology.