Several companies have recently proposed placing solar panels on top of electric cars to give them extra range.
First, there was German startup Sono Motors, which the company says can get up to 21 extra miles from 330 solar cells, making up a 1.21 kilowatt array spread over its roof, hood, and doors.
Then came World Solar Challenge team Solar Team Eindhoven, with plans to take the technology they used to develop their solar race car and use it to produce a solar-assisted electric car called the Lightyear One. The company claims its 795-watt solar array, spread over its roof and hood are enough to add 7.5 miles of range on a sunny day.
And most recently, Toyota covered the hood, roof, and hatchback (including the rear window) of a Toyota Prius PHV (Prius Prime) in Japan with the most advanced research solar cells to give it an extra 27.6 miles of electric driving a day. The car is just a research project for now to verify or adjust those numbers.
Sono Sion solar assisted electric car
Toyota Prius Prime PHV test vehicle with solar panels in Japan
To be clear, these are all full-size, four-wheeled hatchbacks, that get extra range from a small number of solar panels—not science-experiment, three-wheeled, bicycle-tired, recumbent single-seat race cars. And they all have generous battery packs designed primarily to be charged externally from conventional EV chargers.
The responses we've received to our coverage of these vehicles say that our readers have quite varied positions on whether solar cells are worth it at present—or whether they make sense in real-world use, seldom under long stretches of direct sunlight.
Would solar cells add value to your EV?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) July 16, 2019
With so many EV drivers already charging their cars off solar power mounted on their roofs at home, we thought it would be interesting to create a formal poll to see how many of our readers come out on each side of the issue.
Our Twitter question for this week is, “Would solar cells add value to your EV?” The choices are, Yes, No, and On my roof instead.
Click on over to our Twitter poll to let us know where you land. And remember that all of our Twitter polls are unscientific because of their low sample size and because our respondents are self-selected.