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Panasonic to enter mass market with car roof solar panels

Panasonic to enter mass market with car roof solar panels

Panasonic, the Japanese electronics manufacturer, has started producing a 180-watt series of solar cells that can be fixed to the roof of a vehicle.


Shingo Okamoto, General Manager of the Panasonic Solar Business Unit, said, “Car roofs have the potential to become a new market for solar panels.” 


The company announced in February that its solar panels would be used on the roof of Toyota’s latest Prius plug-in hybrid. While other manufacturers have attempted photovoltaics on car roofs, this will be the first mass-produced model with solar panels that provide energy for the car’s main battery.



Seasonal variations in sunlight mean the average distance travelled on a single charge will range from 2.9km to 6.1km – about 10% of the battery’s capacity. This may seem trivial but developers say the amount of charge will improve over time and on redesigning the car’s body to increase surface area for the panels.

solar panel

Image: Panasonic


Green technology giant Tesla also has its eye on Panasonic’s new photovoltaics. The company has partnered with Panasonic in making batteries at its Gigafactory near Las Vegas. After developing solar roof tiles for buildings, CEO Elon Musk tweeted that its new Model 3 car could come with a solar roof.


Other car manufacturers are also exploring the green solution; Nissan offers an add-on solar panel for its Leaf electric cars that contribute to systems such as the air conditioners and radios, while Hanergy Holding Group also unveiled four concept solar cars last year but has not yet begun commercial production.


solar panel

Image: Toyota

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