back to article Prius hybrid to get rooftop solar panel

Motor mammoth Toyota, maker of the famed Prius hybrid car, is rumoured to be thinking about fitting some new Prius models with solar panels. The possible move is unlikely to seriously affect the car's fuel consumption, however, and is being seen by some as a PR stunt. Toyota is offering no official comment on the suggestions, …

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Car Alarm trickle charge.

Ultimately a Prius is a 1500cc hatchback that is very heavy. The hybrid bit distributes the power from that engine, maybe marginally better than a conventional transmission. Drivers on the A34 have been quoting about 38 MPG, about what you get if you drive a 1500cc car sensibly. In urban stop-start driving the hybrid bit should come into its own a bit more but ultimately the engine still has to do all the work to push it along the hybrid bit changes the route to the wheels a bit.

If you could plug it in at night you might be able to make a saving using economy 7 electricity but the sandal-wearing brigade will complain that's not 'green' either. Its made really for the American market so they probably won't try a diesel version either.

At the moment too much compromise for too little gain unless maybe you are a city driver when a Citroen C2 diesel would be more economical and kind to the environment

The weight seems to affect the Prius' handling as well. I watched one overtaking a truck on the A34 and it behaved like it had sacks of cement in the boot, seemed very reluctant to change lanes and seemed to need wrestling back in afterwards as well. The rest of us started giving them plenty of room... Then again maybe people who buy Eco-cars are not good drivers...

The solar panel's real utility (if any) will come if its parked up at the airport or other long term parking when it may be able to keep the battery alive to stop the alarm going off. Ask anyone who has worked at Heathrow parking. To be fair some cars, particularly luxury models could do with some help under those conditions.

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@steve

yes solar panels are effectively greenhouses but then so are dark painted cars and that doesn't stop people buying them.

please do divide my result by 4, i did mention you could divide by 100 if you wish to allow for errors and as you can see just by sheer weight of numbers the actual surface area of 24 million cars is enough to collect a silly amount of energy.

And as for cost (if you're worried) no one seems to mind the extras that are added on for such luxuries as metallic paint work, go faster stripes, airbags, airconditioning (which is i admit mandatory in some parts of the world but not here in the uk, well it didn't seem to until about 10 years ago) all of which would cost a similar amount.

As for getting dirty and too much rain. surely the english rain would be useful for cleaning the tops of cars and hence keeping the panels efficient.

This may well be a PR stunt but someones got to start these things off. It won't make a huge difference to the individual (especially if you drive huge distances per year) but it will save fuel for the country as a whole and limit CO2 emissions. just as seat belts don't effect the individual (unless you crash) but if eveyone uses them then lives are saved.

and just as a side, where's this 10% nonsense come from for airconditioning? cars use a variable amount of fuel depending on what you're doing with them. A/C uses a fixed amount when on and nothing when off. so by stating 10% someone needs to qualify what the engine is doing (idling, racing, urban driving) and in doing so your % figure is rather pointless. using watts is a much more scientific unit.

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Clarkson

is a journalist.

Need I say more?

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Anonymous Coward

Persecute the Heritic (cause I'm bored)

Waves - "55mpg" comment; yes my friend, driven conservatively, the Fiat Doblo 1.9 diesel (mine is over 5 years old now) regularly resides over 60mpg. It's shaped like a brick. Difference is it also has a range of some 1000miles if I can be arsed to hold up the traffic.

Nigel - "like with like" comment; no, see above, a large 5 seater with oodles of boot space (my mates refer to it as the "tardis") - hideous to look at and almost large enough to fit a Prius inside.

Steve Evans - "lose 10% in fuel economy while driving with the windows down" comment; for the "average" car (God only knows what that means BTW) only once the vehicle is travelling over 80mph (100kph) will drag due to air turbulents cause an increase in fuel consumption greater than the air-con system. To justify air conditioning, one has also to declare that one is travelling at illegal speed.

Ash - "clipper lighter" comment; really nice analogy. I'll try to remember that one.

Terry Blay - "Continuously Variable Transmission" comment; LM(f)AO... the Honda Civic had that 20 years ago.

Glen - "Pope = Catholic" comment; I know this isn't the place for an ecumenical discussion but I have to draw the line at that assumption mate. He's a sith lord.

Aitor - "bike" comment; a(wo)men brother/sister.

Frank Bough - "read the broshure" comment - get real fool, that's the spin-laden advert designed to con people into buying that crap. These comments are real life experiences from people who live in the real world. Even with all those wonderful added fuel saving gizmos the Prius still only manages to come up to the same fuel efficiency as a much larger diesel. If you realy want to be transported by fuel efficent discomfort, buy a motorbike. It's infinitely more cool to be seen with too.

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@ everyone who hasn't driven a Prius

Try one before you slag it off. They are a bit bland and grey (mine is *actually* grey) but they drive just like any other (automatic) car out there. There are no compromises on performance (it's about the same as a 2.0 Mondeo) and it's comfortable and quiet. I didn't buy mine to save the planet, I bought it because it's a very clever piece of engineering. I average low 50's mpg (that's UK gallons for all you dopes who didn't spot that some of the posters were referring to US gallons) around town and high 50's on A roads and Mways. Best there and back journey was 63 mpg central London to High Wycombe and back, same day, not very windy, sticking to about 60 on the motorway.

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Happy

Yes, I drive a Prius

And I can average about 52mpg from it. It doesn't have a sunroof though, so the £20 one from Maplin would need to sit on the dashboard.

Note also that it has two batteries. One conventional one for the petrol engine, and one 200V NiMH one for powering the motor (which is charged during deceleration instead of just wasting energy in heating the brakes).

The air-con's a bit pants though, can take ten minutes to cool the cockpit on a sunny day - so something that could keep the fan running when it's parked, with or without air-con, could be a benefit.

Oh, and road-tax is £15/year. What is it in your 144mph diesel BMW? Don't forget that diesel has a lot more carbon in it per litre than petrol...

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@Steve

I thought YOU were the knowledgeable one. Or were you pulling arguments from your arse?

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Why are you idiots knocking the Prius?

I've owned a Prius for two years and put 30k miles on it. It's got all the power and performance I need to crank 70mph on I-90 in Seattle. I AVERAGE 52.5 miles per gallon. In 30k miles, I've rotated the tires a few times and changed the oil every 5k miles.

What the fuck is wrong with that? NO OTHER CAR ON THE ROAD COMPARES TO THAT, and those are the straight facts. Wake up, losers.

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Waves

I am surprised at the emotions generated on this comment section. Come on people, we're just talking about automobiles here, not your daughter's prom date! Many of you seem to think this is some sort of competition. I am pleased to read there are cars across the pond, that get gas mileage comparable to a Prius. That is good news for everyone. I've been saying all along, that my 55 mpg Prius was using US gallons, not Imperial gallons. I also foolishly assumed you guys over there were converting to US gallons. How presumptuous and American of me, huh? Sorry about that. Hey are you guys still driving on the wrong side of the road? Just kidding! I'm glad someone actually took a second to do the conversion. I guess it works out to be 66 mpg Imperial. By the way, the comment about my F-350 truck getting 11 mpg was only meant to lighten things up a bit. I wasn't really comparing my truck to a Prius. Come on! I'm glad so many Prius owners backed up my mpg claims. Thank you. And as far as a fully loaded van getting that kind of mileage, well now I am the one with doubt. In any case, in the US, there are no production cars, vans, or trucks made OR imported that can achieve the gas mileage of a Prius. Maybe someday we can catch up with you guys over there and get fully loaded vans that get 70 mpg, but currently, we have no such vehicles here. As a side note, historically in this country, diesel fuel has been much lower in price than gasoline. Even though diesel costs much less to refine, it is now much more expensive than gas or ethanol fuels. I think it went up because I bought my diesel gobbling truck. ha! Yeah, I know, you guys over there pay much more than we do. That sucks! Last time I was over there, I was shocked at how much you guys must pay for a gallon of fuel. Fuel cost in Japan is even much higher. Hopefully these outrageous costs will keep the engineers working overtime to make a car which will get an honest 120 mpg that we can all be happy with. We shall see. There are a couple of companies planning to sell fuel cell cars in California. Hope it works out.

P.S. Once again, unless it is a new option I haven't seen yet, the Prius does not come with a sun roof, or roof rack, so mounting solar panels in the roof should not pose a problem for the manufacturer.

All for now. Waves

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Waves

I forgot to mention to the Prius owner with a lethargic aircon. I live in a dessert where the temperature routinely reaches 105 degrees F. The aircon in my Prius truly works great. You may want to have the dealership check the system for proper operation and/or possibly a low freon charge.

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Let's discuss the panel, not the mileage

@ Mark:

Ah the old fallacy of tu quoque mixed with ad hominem. If you cannot stand by your statement then please don't act disingenuously. Don’t forget that I mentioned several factors, not just that one which you have again cherry picked...

@ Jimmy:

You are right about the dark cars, but that's a diversion and doesn't take away from my point - which is amplified if we're to consider all cars and vast fields with these things (as they currently are).

"the actual surface area of 24 million cars is enough to collect a silly amount of energy."

Yes, it does seem a little silly when that energy is distributed among 24 million cars!

“no one seems to mind the extras that are added on for such luxuries as metallic paint work, go faster stripes, airbags, airconditioning”

At least one gets something desirable and/or useful (the luxuries), I can’t say the same for the panel.

Rain does not shift the dirt from my car (yes I made the mistake of buying a white car, anyone who owns one will tell you that rain doesn't do jack).

Yes, someone has to start these things off, but let's start with something useful, not a PR stunt which claims to be something which it isn't. The more times the environmentalists cry wolf, the less likely society will believe them when there actually is a real problem – that’s what will kill the planet!

Oh yes, it wasn't me who stated 10% in term of air con usage - I actually stated that the whole concept was flawed from the start (hot roof anyone?)

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@Steve

No, you made a pronouncement and then wanted education over it. This would indicate you made a pronouncement from a position of ignorance.

If this is not the case, then, please, your reasoning.

Big words not confuse me.

PS: Generally, not for you Steve, if you have a car in good nick that's less than 15 years old, KEEP IT. Tune it up, even. Get it rebored, get the timing looked at, give it a couple of grand engineering loving. It will get better mileage than it did before, better emissions, better performance and you won't have to scrap it and bring in the cost of making a new car.

Just don't drive it without the tender care because it will become a heap of shite.

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tu quoque

What a cock, more like.

Look at your own posting.

Did you think that learning the sun wasn't always overhead was an astounding revelation? "OMG!!! The DayStar is not directly over my head all day, everyday!! My calculations RUINED!!!!"

I suggest to you that this is not the startling news you think it to be.

Now, think also of this: the square metre in the UK is not directly under the Sun either. Nor is the ground tilted to face the sun directly. Therefore, measurements of how much solar energy that hit the ground in the UK may take such geometrical configurations into account.

I know it's a wild stab in the dark.

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i've just bought a solar panel

by coincidence i;

a) ordered a 30 watt polycrystaline solar panel last week

b) was talking about this idea the day before the story was released (freaked me out a bit, hence my interest)

Anyway, the solar panel arrived today and as per usual it was raining in manchester. It's now charging a 12Volt deep cycle battery in my shed (i'm not going to strap it to my car!). So in the rain in summer it kicks out about 400mA facing straight up (not angled to the sun). It's about 75cmx35cm and i reckon i could fit 10 of those on my BMW compact (if they were built into the body work of the roof and bonnet).

so that's 4amps at 12 volts or 48 watts. but obviously you'd get more in the sun and less in winter. 10 of those panels would cost £500 at todays prices.

You'd lose a 3rd charging the battery so that's 32 watts. assume 8 hours daylight per day. you'd earn: 32x60x60x8x365 joules per year of useful energy = 336.4 MJoules. 10% would be lost converting this back into kinetic energy via electric motors. so that takes you to about 300MJoules per year.

As per my comment above petrol gives 7.5Mjoules per litre of USEFUL kinetic energy to the car. so 300/7.5 is 40 litres of saved petrol per year in manchester for an average sized car. or about £50 per year. So it'd take at least 10 years to earn your money back.

That's the bad news i suppose. but AT LEAST YOU EARN SOMETHING BACK which i'm afraid to say you will NEVER do for anything else you buy for your car. It'll keep earning money back for you as long as your car is working. i may be a bit weird but i'd rather spend money on this than a personalised number plate or metallic paintwork.

but back to my point 24 million cars x40 litres is about 1 billion litres of saved petrol/diesel per YEAR. You can't argue with those kind of figures. The only other thing that's saved that much petrol is doubling of the price of fuel and we all know how much extra money that is costing us (i dare say more than £500 per cars lifetime that solar panels would cost).

i wonder what our world would be like if all cars had to be sold with solar cells incorporated into their bonnets and roofs (and somehow hybridised or pure electric engines)? Would it be so bad? After all we have worse things imposed on us. eg. 'green' taxes that seem to do nothing but hamper our lives.

@steve:

are you seriously suggesting that solar energy once it's passed through the atmosphere will not escape again if we coat cars in solar cells but if they have normal paintwork the solar energy will magically be allowed out of the atmosphere again? dark materials are excellent radiators of energy and it's the greenhouse effect of upper atmosphere chemicals which i understand to be the problem.

looking at my aging BMW outside it does look a little dirty (it's dark green) but since i haven't washed it for about 3 years it seems to do ok considering. All that manchester rain i suppose.......................

didn't mean to accuse you of the 10% thing, sorry!

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Waves

@Chris who seems to have all the condescending answers, hates everyone, and says: All you do is save your pollution for the countryside. Thanks a lot. You kill baby foxes with your stupid Priuses, choking them to death on your sickening fumes. Jerks.

What the hell are you talking about Crazy man?

@John Robson who says: The American market doesn't seem to understand what an engine can do, and doesn't care about oil, because they'll just go and invade somewhere else.

Your're probably right, but that's a fairly odd statement coming from someone in the UK where they used to boast about how the sun never sets on British soil. How did you guys acquire all of those territories anyway? Yeah, I know, it was a long time ago. Hmmm, anyone remember the Falkland war? Anyway, after reading your post a bit slower, I realize you claimed 53 mpg Imperial, not 70. My mistake. I'm still amazed about your van's gas mileage of 53. Not the 66 mpg Imperial that I get with the Prius, nevertheless, quite impressive.

This comment section is getting a bit too hostile for us rational folks. Later

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AC Arsehole

""read the broshure" comment"

That's "brochure", cretin.

"- get real fool, that's the spin-laden advert designed to con people into buying that crap. These comments are real life experiences from people who live in the real world. Even with all those wonderful added fuel saving gizmos the Prius still only manages to come up to the same fuel efficiency as a much larger diesel."

No it does not. If you could be bothered to read the specifications of the Prius you'd learn a little about what it's designed to do, how large/heavy it is and directly comparable it isn't to a carcinogen-spewing Diesel powered car. The Prius is designed - essentially - as an urban/suburban commuter box, a job which it does in a very civilised and efficient manner. It's not a sports car, neither is it a long-distance repmobile.

"If you realy want to be transported by fuel efficent discomfort, buy a motorbike. It's infinitely more cool to be seen with too."

Yeah, sure, if you're 16 years old.

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@Waves

"But you did it too" went out at playschool as a rebuttal.

One would have thought someone trying to present themselves as a reasoned individual would refrain from schoolyard disputation.

PS: That would be nearly three generations ago that the British left the Empire. I can hardly see that bringing this up against a contemporary reflects in ANY WAY to reduce the validity of the accusation. Nor does it seem to require the recipient of the slur to change in the least: THEY never did that, so what's to change?

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@ Mark

Well well, trying to divert again are we. Why don’t you give me the education that I asked for instead of acting so silly? I could apply your quote of 8th July 2008 14:37 right back at you (which would be correct when considering your statement about the UV).

If you still cannot state what portion of power is still received then all you had to say is that you don’t know instead of making your stance look even more desperate. Your second post is still cherry picking, there are yet other factors which you somehow missed. All these factors ADDED TOGETHER make a significant difference – something you still don’t seem to understand or accept.

“Therefore, measurements of how much solar energy that hit the ground in the UK may take such geometrical configurations into account.”

You say ‘may’, so don’t you know? Solar panel manufactures always state the output power assuming optimal usage, they leave the trivial utilisation calculations to the end-user – unless you believe they ship them stating a correction factor for each country <boggle>

Regardless, the earlier calculations I referred to had obviously assumed perpendicular incident light.

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@ Jimmy

“So it'd take at least 10 years to earn your money back.”

Thanks for your calculations (at least someone seeks to justify their opinion). An additional problem is that the useful lifetime of solar cells is finite. Quality cells last about 20 years but the power output starts dropping off way before that; hence it may never pay for itself – even if your car keeps going.

“You can't argue with those kind of figures.”

Actually I can. The cost saving is offset, likely completely offset, by the amount you pay for it. The oil saving will be offset (by what amount I don’t know) by the resource (not just oil) used to extract/manufacture/transport it. Modern cells are indeed net energy producers, but only when used optimally. As I have already highlighted, in this application the usage is far from optimal.

RE greenhouse effect: apart from the fact that you seemed to have assumed that all paintwork will reflect back (or course it won’t) - that’s exactly how it works. Today’s inefficient solar are indeed excellent radiators of heat – at different (much longer) wavelengths than what is received. The received light passes straight through our atmosphere (apart from the UV, something which still hasn’t clicked with Jimmy), but the re-emitted IR doesn’t pass straight back through.

I’ve had sections of my white Toyota totally blackened out during prolonged wet phases (yeah, that was funny to see); saying that my panels are usually a shade of brown. Your dirt could be absorbing all the red and blue wavelengths (even some of the green) leaving the green to bounce off your dark green paintwork and you wouldn’t know it. Why do so many people regularly wash their cars when our ever recurring, cleansing rains are so good at the job!

“i wonder what our world would be like if all cars had to be sold with solar cells incorporated into their bonnets and roofs (and somehow hybridised or pure electric engines)? Would it be so bad?”

Of course not, but as I said before, it is a bit pointless when considering that power/resource saving is the aim of the game (based on today’s cells). Now there IS a legitimate use for such panels, but seeing as I’ve seen no mention of it anywhere I might go off and patent it (don't think I'm kidding, I've spent today writing one [for a different field]).

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a response for steve

1) How do we know todays cells won't last more than 20 years? The cells made in 1988 are by far inferior to todays (especially in efficiency of converting light to electricity). i was under the impression that there was no agreed lifespan due to these factors. current estimates are 30+ years.

2) RE greenhouses. i do have a grasp of this. i understand most UV doesn't make it through our atmosphere (otherwise we wouldn't be sending UV scopes into space) but some wavelengths do get through otherwise we couldn't get sunburnt.

Yes radiation is mostly IR (black body radiation at 15C) and escapes mostly when it's clear (clouds are great greenhouses). CO2, methane and others are good at reflecting IR too, that's why we're trying to reduce these being emitted. I don't see the difference between solar cells and car paint though. Yes they're slightly different colours but will it make that much difference?

3) good point about the green car. but with everyone washing their cars so often (i've always considered it a waste of time myself) surely this cures the problem (i guess i might be motivated to wash mine if it was costing me fuel!)

4) As for cost. I was proposing mandatory solar cells just as airbags, seatbelts, fog lights, headlights, car tax etc are mandatory. so earning your money back would not be an issue, but it would be a bonus to leave your car in the sun more.

5) As for earning your energy back, 1-4 years is what i've heard for modern cells (used optimally), which isn't great considering most cars only last 15yrs or so. Amorphous cells are a lot cheaper and easier to make (but are less efficient), they even come in flexible foil these days so you could just stick em onto ya car like doublesided tape.

you're right though the economics are a bit dodgy at present but it's probably a close call. which means in my head that someone needs to do some research into this. So if Toyota wanna take this up then good on em and i wish them well.

The main problem is the vested interest in making this NOT work by several MASSIVE companies/industries. Which i suspect is the main reason why a) there have been no electric cars of note and b) this idea will never become a reality. sad really. AND c) why the stupidest idea of the lot (hydrogen fuel) may well reach reality as it is an ideal fuel to tax and regulate but is awful in all other respects.

I'm getting a Tesla when they're out and sticking solar cells on me house roof.

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@Mark

Sorry Mark, I guess you didn't get my humor! My comments to Chris and John were not meant to be jabs per se. Inflection is sometimes difficult to show in an email. I also didn't expect or ask anyone to change anything, so I'm not sure where you were going with that one. As far as John's comment, I stated that he was probably right, followed by some light humor. HUMOR COMING--If the UK had any oil, we would probably invade you guys as well. Hey you invaded us once!

As far as Chris' statement about killing baby foxes with my Prius, and saving all of my pollution for the countryside, I'm still trying to figure that one out???? I thought calling him Crazy man instead of a f*%@ing idiot would keep me off the playground, but I guess not. Sorry. Maybe I should have instead said that his statement sounded as if it were coming from that of a ranting crazy man. I certainly agree with you that calling people names is a huge mistake when one is trying to make a point.

Fortunately, I am not trying to make any points here. I am just a Prius owner trying to share with others some info about the car. I never dreamed there would be so many Prius experts, and Prius haters, most of which have probably never even driven one. I am also surprised at the non-Prius owners that are so negative and close minded about the car. I truly don't care what you, or my next door neighbor drives, and I'm not trying to save the planet with my Prius. I like the car, and it works great for me. That is all. You guys continue driving what works best for you. So, I will refrain from calling all of you MF people any names again.

Anyway, the original subject now seems to be lost, and it is apparent that I am also ranting. All for now. Waves

P.S. 1 By the way, the MF stands for "mighty fine." Gotcha!

P.S. 2 They tell me that my F-350 will get better mileage (about 13-15 mpg US) once the engine is broken in. I checked, nope the parking brake wasn't set. Nope, no trailer either. Darn those twin turbos! It still gets 11 mpg US! Actually, when the trailer is hooked up, it gets about 8 mpg US. It sure has tonnes of power though.

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Paris Hilton

Stop dodging the questions, Steve

You keep trying to pass off questions. If you don't know the answers, just say so. you manhood won't shrivel.

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To Jimmy

1) Current estimates are 20-30 years for the latest generation quality cells, but I very much doubt Toyota would spend that much money on the latest and greatest tech (especially as it won’t be used optimally).

2) Yes some UV gets through (about 1/3 to ¼) but others (who I will no longer let bring me down to his level) seem to think that clouds being transparent to UV will make everything OK even though the UV accounts for less than 5% of the useful energy received at sea level.

As I already said, I don’t believe this additional panel will do much to reduce the CO2 footprint (if you believe we should be doing so).

The difference between solar panels and (non-dark) paint is that paint will re-radiate mostly at 3000-6000 K, not 300K (visible wavelengths, not IR).

3) I said ‘many people’ wash their car, not “everyone”; now everyone with a panel would have to (to aid towards optimal use) – which was my point ;c)

4) Airbags, seatbelts, fog lights, headlights are all useful (some in certain circumstances), they help prevent occupants (and other road users) from dying, so on average they all add significant value even though they don’t earn money. Car tax and this additional panel aren’t useful, don’t add value but yes: they do earn money - but not for you. Leaving the car in the sun more will completely kill the argument about the benefit to aircon (hot car). Also, doing so will also accelerate the decay of the cells and paintwork. When the car is not being driven and it’s not used to charge or power something at maximum possible panel power, what’s exactly is the point of keeping it in the sun when not in use? The engine will have already topped up the battery (it has to otherwise one risks not being able to start the car). All it will do give ~1W to power the alarm and battery and convert the other 99% of the energy to IR and heat.

Damn that is a good point; for me that completely kills the utilisation and payback aspects.

5) Expensive but efficient panels, accounting for non-optimal factors, will result with insignificant payback. Inexpensive but inefficient panels, again accounting for non-optimal factors, will result with insignificant payback. Either way it doesn’t work with today’s tech. If people want to make real use of the energy they provide then they should rip them from those cars and use them more optimally, like strategically placed/angled roofs, or better yet on motorised beds, not on cars.

Now I think of it, this is where the harm is. The false notion that these things are useful has resulted with misallocation of what would otherwise have been a useful energy resource. Regardless of panel efficiency, we should wait for panels to used on all houses before we even consider mounting them to cars; the latter also being at significantly greater risk of breakages through crashing or vandalism – or even being stolen!

Couple that with the fact that you’ll never utilise full possible power anywhere near the maximum possible time (when mounted onto the car), it’s a dead duck. In fact, it's likely that the use of it on a car as increased the CO2 footprint (negative 'net energy') - how ironic!

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Mr Frank Bough

Oh how I laughed when I read your "carcinogen-spewing Diesel powered car" rebuffal. The diesel engine spews carbon (visible dirt rather than invisible dirt). For real carcinogen (cyclic aromatic) release you need to purchase and drive a vehicle that incorporates an unleaded petrol engine, like the, er... um,... ;o). How pious, the Prius owners have become. How narrow and misinformed their *brochure* dependent minds have become; how typically pedantic your assault on my typo was. Face it d00d, you bought a ringer. We all make mistakes, yours at least was made from the very best of intentions. Stick with it now you have got it though because it would be even more environmentally unsound to trash the vehicle. It's not a dig at you, it's not a personal character assassination, I like the idea of the dual fuel, inertial recharge, solar panel enhancements that are being tested out but the technology is still far behind the dream... This is one person's opinion - or don't you subscribe to the declaration of human rights?

Is it a legal requirement to give up your sense of humo(u)r when you buy one of these things?

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another one for steve

Are you saying that solar cells should not be left in the sun because they degrade? Now that is a ridiculous thing to say! They're designed to be left in the sun!

So i'm not suggesting these should be retrofitted to existing cars, that would be pointless. New cars (whether hybrid like the Prius or pure electric like the Tesla) will need to be fitted with adequate spare charging capacity so that as much energy as possible is stored from the cells when the car is not in use.

Unfortunately the Prius does not do this, whenever the petrol engine is in use it's charging the battery to its max (a big downfall i think as this is inefficient, the energy would be better off being used to propel the car).

So my main points are these (and i don't think anyone can disagree with them):

Firstly, it must be demonstrated that car solar panel manufacture takes up less energy than they generate in their average lifespan.

Secondly, cost to the consumer is not a necessary consideration. Think catalytic converters. Mandatory, they add several hundred pounds to the cost of a new car, they REDUCE fuel efficiency (by necessitating an increase in the fuel/oxygen ratio therefore more fuel is used) and they do nothing (except cost money) for the individual driver. They only act on mass to improve air quality.

Thirdly, i therefore see no reason why this concept can not become reality at some point. It will eventually save money for the driver as compared to other mandatory car features.

I agree that putting them on houses will use the cells more optimally than cars though. But i'm afraid household electricity prices are going to have to be in the same realms of petrol prices to make them economical. Something that WILL happen in time if no one does anything about it, we are after all at peak oil production.

Either that or hybrids are going to have to become 'Plugin' so that you can use the energy from your house solar cells to charge your car. This involves adding more battery energy storage to extend their range and also increasing the top speed at which they run solely on electric. The problem with this is that cars are usually away from home when the cells are producing most energy. The energy has to then be sold to the grid for (cheekily) less than you buy it back. someone needs to do something about that.

Car manufacturers seem a little scared of producing plugin hybrids probably because the amount we rely on petrol might crash, the government would earn less tax and influencial oil giants would lose money.

As for your suggestion of having fields of panels tracking the sun to optimise efficiency. Not good for the UK where we're struggling for space. I doubt it'd get past planning either. Great for the sahara though, but then you'd lose a lot of energy transporting it thousands of miles.

how's your patent going?

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Back at Jimmy

It would be a strawman fallacy to say that I implied “solar cells should not be left in the sun because they degrade”, I said that it would be so if the cells are NOT IN USE (or at least not used at a decent power output). They will still degrade when left in the sun even if no power is taken from them.

“ New cars (whether hybrid like the Prius or pure electric like the Tesla) will need to be fitted with adequate spare charging capacity so that as much energy as possible is stored from the cells when the car is not in use.”

Agreed, but that makes the payback/CO2 footprint situation even worse. This requires a bigger, or more likely, a second battery must be used. Current lead acid devices last about 4 years before their capacity tails off.

“Unfortunately the Prius does not do this”

Exactly, it is a PR stunt!

The picture is bigger than simply saying “it must be demonstrated that car solar panel manufacture takes up less energy than they generate in their average lifespan.”. The panels will be utilised only when the car is being driven, if not then consideration must also be given to the resource needed to store the otherwise ‘unused’ energy.

The only real considerations are cost to customer and net oil use (which inherently includes CO2 footprint). I think we can now discount cost, especially as Toyota won’t charge the customer at the cost of the cell. Oil is debateable due to the resource (not just oil, which isn’t the only unsustainable ingredient) needed for the cell and multiple, relatively short lifetime batteries.

Again considering the bigger picture: the ‘other mandatory car features’ will save money by helping to prevent accidents, deaths and other health issues. This reduces police and hospital bills (and ultimately the cost to the taxpayer) and insurance costs.

The government would not lose money if we all used electric cars, they would continue to screw the motorist by rolling out a congestion charge, which is exactly what they’re already trying to do. I’m ambivalent about oil giants losing money; I would be much happier with no longer funding unstable and inhumane regimes.

Please note, I didn’t suggest we should have ‘fields’ of these things, I mentioned the issue merely for warning about large scale heat trapping.

I agree the concept of panels on cars could become useful when more advanced tech becomes available and cost effective, but today’s PR stunt is a false economy and is resulting with misallocation of resource.

I’m in the midst of taking legal advice from patent lawyers.

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@steve

How does new tech become cheaper? By early adopters buying it when it's new and expensive.

E.g. CD players. DVD players. VHS toploaders. *cars* themselves.

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For the hard of thinking.....

I'm not saying we should avoid such devices, I never have (that's a strawman fallacy); I AM saying we shouldn't be misallocating what could otherwise be a useful resource.

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Alien

Well, hard to see how we knew that, Steve

"I agree the concept of panels on cars could become useful when more advanced tech becomes available and cost effective, but today’s PR stunt is a false economy and is resulting with misallocation of resource."

The second half of the sentence looks like a run-on and doesn't seem to have any connection to the earlier half.

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The end

“Useful …” against “false economy…” – meaning ‘not useful’; there’s your connection.

I can’t say I’m concerned with your comment if that’s the most significant gripe you have with my arguments; it’s not like your own arguments and behaviour commanded respect anyway!

Unless your future comments sincerely add to the debate I will refrain from responding to you, so feel free to end with the inevitable silly parting shot.

It seems like this debate has concluded anyway.

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Re: The end

Come on, you must agree that the statement doesn't LOOK like what you said you meant.

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Anonymous Coward

To all the prius nuts

You do realise that you are not increasing your MPG, you are merely not using the engine for part of the distance traveled, therefore not using the fuel ?

There is no greater fuel economy gained from your engine, just more fuel used somewhere geographically different.

I can buy 5 litres of petrol and keep it in a can in the boot. I can drive to John 'o' Groats and back without using it at all ! How's that for MPG ?

You should be focusing on total energy used for the distance travelled, however and where ever it was generated.

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