Next Gen Prius Gets Solar-Powered A/C
Word has leaked out that the next-generation Toyota Prius will offer optional solar cells on the roof manufactured by Kyocera. Yahoo! News reckons the new system, rated at least 2kW, should be capable of powering the air conditioner unit. The current Prius and other Toyota hybrids already have an electric AC unit. "Adding solar panels to a model targeting mass consumers would mark a first for a major automaker", The Nikkei said. Ahem. Let's flashback to fall 1991, courtesy of the New York Times archive. The last generation Mazda 929 had 500W solar panels on the sunroof. The cells ran exhaust fans in conjunction with the AC unit (the Mazda's chiller wasn't electrically powered). The rooftop solar system could trickle-charge the battery from dead to full steam ahead in one week– assuming the 929 was parked in Arizona during the dry season. The old system was perfect for the airport long-term parking lot. It'll be a lot harder for the Prius to make this work on a daily basis, but the PR benefit for both the ToMoCo hybrid– and solar technology in general– is literally priceless. Even before it turns a wheel, the next gen Prius has trumped Chevy's plug-in electric – gas hybrid Volt.
Without using the uber-expensive space grade cells the most most your could get out of the roof of a car would b 200-300Watts per hour. There is no Moores Law for PV. Solar cells get 2-4% cheaper and more efficient per year. Sill a good idea though, if I lived in a hot climate I'd gladly pay a bit more to have a car that is 90F vs. 120F+ after being parked in the sun for 6 hrs.
Fellow Floridians: I have found the perfect way to keep one’s car cooled; park in the shade. I know this might seem obvious, but I see so many people who go to the mall and park in the sun instead of the covered garage, that maybe it isn’t that obvious. Another trick, if you have a sunroof, you should leave it tilted open when parked in the sun in order to let the hot air in the car circulate out.
I found that cracking the windows in Florida did very little - but it sure does a lot here in Texas, with the lower humidity.
Another nail in the coffin for the Electric Vega. Toyo didnt get their reputation selling gimmicks.