Flexible, Ultra-Thin Solar Panels for Hybrids by Solatec

Solatec LLC has introduced rooftop-mounted flexible photovoltaic panels to help recharge the batteries in hybrid cars, so long as the sun continues to shine. The panels are very thin (just 0.6 mm thick) and conform to the contour of the vehicle, so aerodynamic drag is not affected. The kit for the model year 2004-2006 Toyota Prius is the first to be produced, though Solatec claims a Civic hybrid version is on the horizon. The manufacturer-rated output power for both panels is 30 watts; this translated into an average fuel economy increase of 10 percent in a prototype, though the "four season" test is still pending. As with everything solar, there will be differences between radiation-friendly places and more sunshine-challenged locales. The kit costs $2,195 and will be available at dealer franchises across the US. ::Solatec via ::Green Car Congress