Panasonic has developed a solar photovoltaic car roof for the latest TOYOTA Prius PHEV, upping the wattage from 50 W to 180 W. Called the HIT Photovoltaic Module for Automobile, the 180-W-generating roof is the first designed with the ability to recharge the lithium-ion powertrain battery, along with the standard 12-V lead-acid battery. It was designed with a resistance to hot environments, which lead to a decline in output as the temperatures rise.
The previous solar roof only generated nominal electricity: enough to power the ventilation fans and for use as a charging source. The new roof can help to increase the car’s efficiency roughly by up to 10%, adding up to 3.5 km of range per day. Unfortunately, this reinforced glass sheeting hasn’t passed rollover crash tests in the U.S., so it will be available in Japan and Europe.
Panasonic has become a major player in the battery market, partnering with Tesla and it’s CEO Elon Musk has stated the coming Tesla Model 3 will probably have a solar roof option as well.