One of the most challenging aspects of driving a plug-in hybrid or EV model is the range of the vehicle and how far you have to go. These vehicles have been built to offer you some of the most aerodynamic shapes to help cut down on resistance and improve the distance you can travel on a single charge. For the most part, EV technology has come a long way and we now see models on the road that can last an entire day of driving before needing to be charged up overnight.
The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid offers reasonable range from its battery pack, but we can always have more. This is why Toyota has turned to a name that we’re all familiar with to help give this car a little more range when it’s out in the sun. Panasonic has developed the full length solar roof for the Japanese models of the Prius Prime in an effort to help give this car more range on a daily basis. This solar roof is said to be able to charge up this car whenever its outside, which makes it a car that can take advantage of being parked in the driveway and not in a garage.
The power that will be enjoyed from the solar panel comes out to 180 watts of electricity which is enough to operate the accessories of the car without putting that drain on the batteries that are part of the propulsion system. This could result in an improvement of range for the car of about 3.7 miles per day that can be added to the car’s battery while its parked. This means you could park your Prius Prime and head into work for the day only to find your range has been increased during the time you’ve been working.
This panel that’s been developed by Panasonic is also capable of charging the battery while the car is in motion and it fits the contours of the Prius roof without changing the design of the car. This is something that could work extremely well for other car companies as well, especially one that Panasonic has direct ties to; Tesla.
Panasonic currently builds batteries at the Gigafactory of Tesla and has plans to work on solar cells after the acquisition of SolarCity took place. This would make it easy for Panasonic to be the creator of the solar panels for Tesla automobiles as well, but right now the Tesla focus with solar and SolarCity is in the creation of roof tiles that can be power homes and businesses around the country. This doesn’t mean that Tesla hasn’t considered this possibility and now that Panasonic has been able to create solar panels for the roof of the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid we might see a direct change to the options listed for the Model 3 before it arrives on the market with a contoured solar roof being an option that could be used.
Whether Tesla adds the solar roof to the Model 3 now or in the future, the thought of offering this on a car that’s being advertised as the most affordable Tesla ever makes sense. Adding more distance to the drive of any EV or plug-in hybrid is a good thing and with this solar technology we may only have just begun to see what solar can do for our automobiles. There may be more companies lining up to have Panasonic create the solar roof for their models so the accessories can run on solar and the car can run on the power that’s provided by the batteries. This is certainly the next step forward in this technology.