Using Solar Roofs To Power Hybrids

A company called Solar Electrical Vehicles is specializing in adding a convex solar roof to hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius, Highlander Hybrid and the Ford Escape Hybrid. The solar modules are rated at 200-300 watts, and this power is utilized to charge a supplemental battery. With the solar roof, the Toyota Prius can operate up to 20 miles per day in electric mode thus improving fuel economy by up to 29% (depending on driving habits and conditions). The system costs $2000-$4000 and the payback time is said to be 2-3 years. The higher-capacity batteries will add another 10 miles of gas-free driving, says Greg Johanson, president of Solar Electrical Systems, adding that the company is also looking at ways to add the technology to Toyota Highlanders and electric Teslas.The company is also currently experimenting with increasing its 212-watt module to a 320-watt module.

"All the technology is there," Johanson said. "It's just the larger manufacturer taking the next step." For the first 40 miles of a commute, the cars use batteries rather than gas. Forty miles a day is equal to 50 cents a gallon off the utility grid.

With gas prices expecting to break $4 a gallon in the near future, Johanson said they will be gaining in popularity. To date, the company has manufactured nearly 100 of the kits to individual buyers. "Four dollars is the break-even point for these kits," Johanson said. "Then it pays for itself in two years. That's where the economics makes sense for the kits. Do you want to own it or do you want to rent energy for the next three years?"

Via: San Fernando Business Journal (subscription required)

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