We already knew that the Prius Prime won’t be sold with a solar panel in the USA because of the crashing tests regulations. At least in the first years, until Toyota can do something about it.
The Chief Engineer for Toyota’s hybrid Prius, Kouji Toyoshima, had this to say:
“We would like to introduce this (to America), at least in the lifetime of the current model. It should be possible to do a lot of charging this way in places like California or Arizona.”
Now we know that the solar panel is rated at 180 W and can be used to charge both batteries (high and low voltage).
The Toyota Prius Prime isn’t the first plugin hybrid to have a big solar panel on the roof.
Remember the Fisker Karma and its 120 W solar panel?
Many people say that solar panels only make sense on building roofs, because that way they can be always facing south and have no shadows. But why not both?
We tend to forget that solar panels, like batteries are getting better, not only cheaper but more efficient. Currently the best commercial solar panels have an efficiency around 22 %, but solar panels like the ones used by NASA are 46 % efficient. Now they are too expensive to be commercialized but technology improvements will make it happen sooner or later.
In a good day the 180 W solar panel can provide approximately 1 kWh to the battery. This is good for 6-8 km of range. In a few years the Toyota Prius Prime could have both its battery and solar panel upgraded. A 16 kWh battery and a 300 W solar panel would be nice…
Since companies like Panasonic, LG and Samsung sell both products, batteries and solar panels I can see them push forward this combination.