Panasonic Shows Off New Solar Roof For Japanese Toyota Prius Prime

While the integration of solar cells into the roofs of consumer vehicles has always generated a fair amount of criticism — owing to the cost-to-benefit ratio — the idea is still one that grabs many people’s attention.

Panasonic apparently took some of the common criticisms of the idea into account with the creation of its new solar roof for theJapanese version of the Toyota Prius Prime, with the company claiming that it’s new setup is capable of generating up to 180 watts, not bad for a solar roof.

Toyota claims that the solar roof can provide the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with around 3.7 miles of range a day when parked outside. Notably, the panel doesn’t change the shape of the Prius Prime’s roof — the contours and drag coefficient are the same.

Autoblog provides some interesting context:

“Something that makes this rather interesting is that Panasonic has very close ties to Tesla. The companies build batteries at the Gigafactory, and they planned to work on solar cells after Tesla acquired SolarCity. That particular collaboration seemed oriented towards the home solar panel market, particularly with the presentation of Tesla’s solar roof tiles. However, Elon Musk has expressed interest in automotive solar panels.

“In November, Musk talked about the possibility of a solar roof option for the Model 3 on Twitter. Nothing concrete was discussed, but the possibility seems stronger now in light of the Panasonic announcement. Panasonic also said in its press release that the company is looking to expand the availability of its automotive solar technology. It would seem like the the Model 3 would be the perfect opportunity for both companies.”