***NOTE: Industrious EcoGeeks have tried their hardest to find the original source article reporting this news. The AP Article claimed to be quoting an article from Japan's Nikkei. That Nikkei article has not been located, and appears to not exist...so Toyota may not have claimed that they're working on a car solely powered by solar. Frankly...since it seems like such a fantastical claim...we are not surprised. But if this is true...I'll take back some of the mean things I said below :-).
I find it hilarious that Toyota has been going on and on about how extended-range electric vehicles are technologically impossible, and now they're saying that their goal is a 100% solar powered car.
OK Toyota, we get it, you dropped the ball. You were riding so smoothly on your hybrid-electric white mare that you forgot to keep innovating for a couple of years. That's cool, you're welcome to jump back on the bandwagon any time...but don't tell us you'll be doing it with an impossible car.
A vehicle with solar panels to help charge the hybrid or all-electric battery? Sure. A car that comes with a discounted photovoltaic system for your house...I'll buy that. But you can't have a car that is solely run by photovoltaic panels on the car. It is literally impossible.
To power the average 30 mpg car, you'd need a solar array roughly the size of two cars. Even high efficiency solar cells at noon in the desert couldn't produce enough power to run a street-legal two seater. Of course, none of this will really be an issue...since 100% of the cities in America have these pesky things called shadows.
It's possible that something was mistranslated by the AP, who reported the story from a Japanese article. Maybe they're just hoping to build a car that could be run by the energy generated by solar cells...if the car was parked in the sun for 16 straight hours.
Solar powered cars, in general, I believe to be a poor use of solar panels. Because of the relatively small loss of power in transferring electrons from your roof to your car, it's always a better idea to put the panels on your roof. The car will invariably spend less time oriented toward the sun and more time in shadow.
Why not have the panels where they will always catch the maximum amount of sun? They'll cost less, be more versatile, and produce far more power.
Via the AP (and just about every environmental blog on the planet)
written by CelticSolar, January 03, 2009
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written by BeholdersEye, January 13, 2009
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