Greg Johanson, a pioneer in creating fast solar cars, together with people from Solar Electric Vehicles; have developed DIY kits for enabling cars like the Toyota Prius to run on solar energy. The kit provides up to 20 miles of travel and boosts fuel economy up to 29 percent. Johanson and company are testing the the first solar energy systems tailored for hybrids by configuring four “PV Prius” prototypes and a “PV Highlander.”
SEV is working with Kyocera to create the solar modules, which are constructed from fiberglass and sold as kits that can be installed with the assistance of an instructional DVD. An electric converter routes the module directly to the nickel-metal hydride battery in the Prius.
The photo-voltaic set-up can generate up to 1,300 watt-hours a day, enough to power a solar Prius to a range of 5 to 8 miles. With the additional boost of a NiMH battery, that adds up to an all-electric range of up to 20 miles—boosting fuel economy 17 to 29 percent.
SEV is currently trying to make the technology more affordable, from $3,500—a price which only the hardcore environmentalist will bite.
But the PV Prius is also hardcore green—the solar conversion extends battery life and cuts CO2 emissions by at least 9,000 pounds over the car’s life span.
SEV is teaming up with Ford to create kits for Ford hybrids. It also hopes to sign a deal with General Motors to do a kit for the Chevrolet Volt. SEV is pushing the government to offer tax incentives so solar hybrid users can break even on the cost after two or three years.