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solar cars still a way off
The new Prius, which will be launched at dealers this spring, will have an optional solar panel on its roof.
Toyota said the panels will power the ventilation system, which can cool the car without the help of the engine.
But there\'s still a long way to go from 2010 Prius to solar.
Electric vehicles, experts told CNN.
Most people agree that there is not enough space on the production car to get full power from the solar panels.
\"It\'s quite a long way to be able to power cars entirely with solar energy --
Achieve the goal, \"said Tony mark, senior engineer at the federal government National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden Colorado.
In the new Prius, solar panels will provide energy for ventilation fans, which will help cool parked cars on sunny, hot days.
The driver can remotely start the fan in front of the car.
Once the car starts, the air conditioner does not need that much energy from the battery to complete the rest of the cooling.
\"The best thing about using solar is that no matter what you end up doing with it, you\'re trying to replace gasoline with it,\" added Markel . \".
The question is, how much gasoline can solar power offset?
Markel said his lab has transformed a Prius so that the solar panels of its main batteries and auxiliary systems can use electricity in the grid.
He believes the car gets an extra 5 miles of electric range from the panel.
According to a recent article in Japan\'s Nikkei News, Toyota has a bigger plan to use solar energy.
According to Nikkei News, Toyota hopes to develop a car powered entirely by solar panels.
The project will take years, according to the newspaper.
However, when CNN contacted, a Toyota spokesman denied the existence of the project.
\"At this time, we have not yet planned to produce a concept or production version of solar energy.
\"Said Amy K.
Taylor is a communications administrator in Toyota\'s environmental, safety and quality department.
Drivers don\'t have to wait for 2010 Prius to drive solar-
Enhanced cars, however.
Greg Johansson, president of solar electric vehicles in West Lake Village, California, said his company built a roof --
The standard Prius mounting panel makes the car travel 15 miles a day.
The system costs $3,500, which will take about a week, Johnson said.
Billy Bautista, the company\'s project coordinator, said solar electric vehicles received so many system requests that they had a backlog of months.
The company\'s website says that while it recommends finding a \"qualified technician\", drivers can install panels themselves.
\"The system provides about 165 Watts of power per hour for the increased battery, which helps to power the motor,\" Johnson said.
But others say it takes much more power to replace the internal combustion engine than that.
Eric Leonard, director of the Vehicle Research Institute at West Washington University, said that even if solar cells work much better than they are today, they will not generate enough power to travel a long distance.
He said that the best battery operation efficiency is about 33%, but the battery efficiency for vehicles is only about 18%.
Leonhardt said that using solar energy to help charge the car\'s battery and using a more efficient panel mounted above the roof or parking lot to provide the rest of the power would actually require a drive engine.
\"Solar panels really need a lot of space,\" he said . \"
Leonard sees Toyota\'s new Prius as the first step in using renewable energy.
He added that when some cars are parked in the sun, the temperature in the car will exceed 150 degrees, so lowering the temperature may mean that Toyota can use smaller AC units.
Johnson of solar electric vehicles said he wanted to see Toyota reduce the weight of Prius from 3,000 pounds to 2,000.
He also hopes to have a small gasoline engine and a larger electric motor.
This could be in the future when Toyota launches the plugin engine.
At the same time, solar electric vehicles sell their versions of plugs
At Prius, solar panels were installed for $25,000, Bautista said.
Toyota is the largest automaker to incorporate solar energy into mass productionproduced car.
But for a car company, its solar panels are not the first.
Audi uses a pair of high-end A8 models, Mazda test 929th seconds in 1990.
In addition, the French company of Wenchang Automobile also produced an electric car. solar hybrid.
The eclectic model, which costs $30,000, looks like a model.
Golf cart with roof
Install solar panels to power the power engine.
Its range is about 30 miles and its maximum speed is about 30 miles per hour.
CNN\'s Brandon Griggs contributed to the story.