"Is Toyota developing a purely solar-powered car — or is this a story lost in translation?"
An AP report is generating headlines around the world:
Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy….
According to The Nikkei, Toyota is working on an electric vehicle that will get some of its power from solar cells equipped on the vehicle, and that can be recharged with electricity generated from solar panels on the roofs of homes. The automaker later hopes to develop a model totally powered by solar cells on the vehicle, the newspaper said without citing sources.
Getting some electricity from rooftop PV panels isn’t news, though it is a good idea, if only a “symbolic gesture” until panel costs drop sharply. [See also Treehugger's "Solar-Powered Toyota Prius Project."]
But there isn’t enough rooftop area to run a car solely on rooftop solar cells. I don’t see how it would work even for an ultralightweight short-range city car with a really big roof area — an ungainly, unaerodynamic design. And don’t forget, cars are often parked inside.
This story does seem a tad unreliable given the full opening sentence:
Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy in an effort to turn around its struggling business with a futuristic ecological car, a top business daily reported Thursday.
Toyota struggling? It had a loss this year, true — the “first since the Japanese automaker began reporting results in 1941“! Meanwhile, it’s biggest competitor is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Yeah, I’d like to struggle that much. In any case, long before any solar car could be ready to market, Toyota will be the biggest and most profitable car company in the world.
The Truth About Cars says there is no truth to this story, that it was just lost in translation — see Toyota Allegedly Developing Solar Car: A Case Of Too Much Sake.
Still, I ran Chrysler to electrify entire product line! which some commenters thought should have been filed under humor. Let’s file this under
Don’t hold your breath ‘media’ — since they probably got the story wrong.
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