Bored of stopping for fuel? This amazing car never needs filling up or charging
Back in the early 2000s, Toyota was one of the first manufacturers to commit to hybrid and electric mobility with the Prius. Fast forward about 15 years and the Japanese firm is still at the forefront of automotive technology what with Hydrogen fuel cells and its ultra-efficient LMP1 program.
Over the past decade or so in the FIA WEC, Toyota has learnt a thing or two about going as far as possible on a single tank of fuel. Its current TS050 can do 11 laps of the 13.6km Le Mans course on one tank of fuel on the ragged edge.
This may be impressive, but the company’s latest concept aims to truly take the biscuit. In fact, with a modified Prius, Toyota is looking to achieve infinite range from a single charge. In other words, they want an electric car that doesn’t require filling up with fuel or recharging. Ever.
The project was inspired by the latest solar panel technology used on satellites in outer orbit. In fact, the Prius is covered in 1,100 small solar panels making the car look like a solar field. This new technology is proving to be quite the step forward compared to the usual panels used commercially. It represents a 37 per cent conversion rate meaning 37 per cent of the heat coming from the Sun is converted to electricity, compared to 20 per cent which is the norm.
At the moment, the so-called ‘Solar Car’ is in the very early stages of its development. It can only drive for around 55km before running out of battery. However, if the car is used every day, for around 50km, it will never need to be charged.
Obviously, this is a new idea that will require decades of research to perfect. However, as Koji Makino, a project manager at Toyota said, “The solar car’s advantage is that — while it can’t drive for a long range — it’s really independent of charging facilities.” In fact, it could be a real breakthrough in the automotive industry.