Panasonic has developed a full-length solar roof available on the Japanese version of a Toyota plug-in hybrid. According to Panasonic, the roof is a significant improvement over past solar automotive solar panels due to its significantly improved output. A panel capable of producing 180 watts of electricity, which is apparently enough to power car accessories and also charge the lithium-ion batteries. According to Toyota, this panel can add up to 3.7 miles of range a day to the car’s battery while parked, and it also helps charge the battery while the car is in motion. It also fits the contours of the Prius roof and doesn’t change the design.
Something that makes this rather interesting is that Panasonic has very close ties to Tesla. The companies build batteries at the Gigafactory, and they planned to work on solar cells after Tesla acquired SolarCity. That particular collaboration seemed oriented towards the home solar panel market, particularly with the presentation of Tesla’s solar roof tiles. It also said in its press release that the company is looking to expand the availability of its automotive solar technology. It would seem like the the Model 3 would be the perfect opportunity for both companies. And if Tesla can engineer absurd gull-wing doors, we wouldn’t be surprised if they made a pop-up solar panel a reality either.
China has also made big strides in green energy. Last year, the country doubled its total of electric vehicles to more than 600000 to become the world’s largest EV market. Other developing ones are catching up.