Posts Tagged ‘Toyota’

8 May

Which Solar Vehicle Will Make It Into the U.S. Showroom First: Tesla or Toyota?


Panasonic Toyota Prius Prime

Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,


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Windermere Blue Sunset (credit: Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker)
Below is a re-post from one of our sister publications, Windermere Sun:

Over some of the social networks, our previous post of  Climate March Orlando on April 29, 2017 received much attention and debate/discussion regarding climate change. At one point, I did comment, “I am optimistic, for solar and wind costs have already dropped tremendously in recent years. Solar is more cost effective than conventional fossil fuel in many places. Electric vehicle and solar e-vehicles are coming in. These progress will all help in keeping carbon emission in check or be reduced in our earth’s atmosphere.”

Case in point, I’d like to share a video that demonstrates how Panasonic is building the full-length solar roof for Japan’s Prius Prime plug in hybrid, below:

Panasonic announced an advanced solar car that will debut as the 2017 model Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid in Japan (the Prius Prime) last week. This is going to be the first commercially available, mass produced passenger car to feature an optional solar charging system! Improvements in solar technology efficiency combined with advanced design and technologies to laminate three-dimensional curved glass have allowed a high output (tripling the output of previous solar roof that was only able to ventilate parked cars and auxiliary charging of the standard 12-volt lead acid battery). As the solar panels and electric vehicle become cheaper and more efficient, the potential range boost will likely to  occur. The 2017 Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid with about 25 miles of range available on a fully charged battery before it needs gasoline.It gets 54  miles per gallon (combined city-highway EPA estimate) when running on gas. Its EPA estimated electric mileage is 133 mpg-e.

Its solar roof option will initially be offered only in Japan (on Japanese models) until Toyota and Panasonic develop an improvement to the reinforced curved glass panels, which would not pass U.S. rollover standards.

The panel is capable of producing 180 watts of electricity, which is apparently enough to power car accessories (which weren’t specified) and also charge the lithium-ion batteries. According to Toyota, this panel can add up to 3.7 miles of range a day to the car’s battery while parked, and it also helps charge the battery while the car is in motion. It also fits the contours of the Prius roof and doesn’t change the design.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted in November 2016 that he wanted a solar roof option for the Tesla Model 3, Tesla’s affordable long-range electric car that had record pre-sales. Whether it will be Tesla solar car or Toyota solar car make it into the U.S. showroom first, one thing to be certain: our streets will soon be covered with Solar Powered Electric Vehicles….to reduce carbon emissions and to slow down the warming of our planet earth! I gladly await for the electric vehicle that will allow me to have both self-driving and solar powered features long before I reach my 80’s. It is an amazing world we’re living in!


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Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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29 January

Solar Powered Plane, The Solar Impulse Reminds Us That The Ultimate Power Is The SUN


Dear Friends, Viewers/Visitors/Readers,

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If you’ve been following Sun Is The Future since 2011, you may remember the two posts on Solar Impulse that I wrote about on July 14, 2011:  Solar Impulse HB-SIA-Solar Plane (1) and Solar Impulse-SIA-Solar Plane (2).  For those of you visiting Sun Is The Future for the first time, here are some information provided by wikipedia, below:

Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range solar powered aircraft project being undertaken at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The project eventually hopes to achieve the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power. The project is led by Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop, and Swiss businessman André Borschberg.  The first aircraft, bearing the Swiss aircraft registration code of HB-SIA, is a single-seater monoplane, capable of taking off under its own power, and intended to remain airborne up to 36 hours.

This aircraft first flew an entire diurnal solar cycle, including nearly nine hours of night flying, in a 26-hour flight on July 7-8, 2010. In 2012, Piccard and Borschberg conducted successful solar flights from Switzerland to Spain and Morocco. In 2013, plans call for a flight from California to Virginia.  Building on the experience of this prototype, a slightly larger follow-on design (HB-SIB) is planned to make a circumnavigation of the globe in 20–25 days. This flight was initially planned for 2014, but following a structural failure of the aircraft’s main spar during static testing, a more likely date is 2015.

Piccard initiated the Solar Impulse project in 2003. By 2009, he had assembled a multi-disciplinary team of 50 specialists from six countries, assisted by about 100 outside advisers. The project is financed by a number of private companies. The four main partners are Deutsche BankOmega SASolvay, and Schindler. Other partners include Bayer MaterialScience, Altran and Swisscom. Other supporters include ClarinsSemper, Toyota, BKW and STG. The EPFL, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Dassault have provided additional technical expertise, while SunPower provided the aircraft’s photovoltaic cells.

With a non-pressurized cockpit and a limited flight ceiling, the HB-SIA is primarily a demonstrator design. The plane has a similar wingspan to the Airbus A340 airliner. Under the wing are four nacelles, each with a set of lithium polymer batteries, a 10 hp (7.5 kW) motor and a twin-bladed propeller. To keep the wing as light as possible, a customised carbon fibre honeycomb sandwich structure is used. 11,628 photovoltaic cells on the upper wing surface and the horizontal stabilizer generate electricity during the day. These both propel the plane and charge its batteries to allow flight at night, theoretically enabling the single-seat plane to stay in the air indefinitely. The first manned flight overnight lasted about 26 hours in July of 2010.

The aircraft’s major design constraint is the capacity of the lithium polymer batteries. Over an ideal 24-hour cycle, the motors will deliver a combined average of about 8 hp (6 kW), roughly the power used by the Wright brothers‘ pioneering Flyer in 1903. As well as the charge stored in its batteries, the aircraft uses the potential energy of height gained during the day to power its night flights.

On  June 26, 2009, the Solar Impulse was first presented to the public in Dübendorf, Switzerland. Following taxi testing, a short-hop test flight was made on December 3, 2009, piloted by Markus Scherdel.

On  April 7,  2010, the HB-SIA conducted an extended 87-minute test flight, piloted by Markus Scherdel. This flight reached an altitude of 1,200 m (3,937 ft).

On May 28,  2012, the aircraft made its first flight powered entirely by solar energy, charging its batteries in flight. On July 8, 2010. the HB-SIA achieved the world’s first manned 26-hour solar powered flight.  The airplane was flown by Andre Borschberg, and took off at 6:51 a.m.Central European Summer Time (UTC+2) on July 7 from an airfield in Payerne, Switzerland.  It returned for a landing the following morning at 9:00 a.m. local time.  During the flight, the plane reached a maximum altitude of 8,700 m (28,500 ft).  At the time, the flight was the longest and highest ever flown by a manned solar-powered aircraft; these records were officially recognized by the Federation Aeronoautique Internationale (FAI) in October, 2010. On  May 13, 2011, at approximately 21:30 local time, HB-SIA landed at Brussels Airport,





Solar Impulse aircraft at Brussels Airport in May of 2011





after completing a 13-hour flight from its home base in Switzerland. It was the first international flight by the Solar Impulse, which flew at an average altitude of 6,000 ft (1,829 m) for a distance of 630 km (391 mi), with an average speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). The aircraft’s slow cruising speed required operating at a mid-altitude, allowing much faster air traffic to be routed around it. The aircraft was piloted by Andre Borschberg. The project’s other co-founder, Bertrand Piccard, said in an interview after the landing: “Our goal is to create a revolution in the minds of people…to promote solar energies — not necessarily a revolution in aviation. A second international flight to the Paris Air Show was attempted on  June 12, 2011, but the plane turned back half-way and landed back in Brussels, where it had taken off, due to adverse weather conditions. In a second attempt on  June 14, André Borschberg successfully landed the aircraft at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport at 9:15 pm after a 16-hour flight.

On  June 5, 2012, the Solar Impulse successfully completed its first intercontinental flight, flying a 19-hour trip from Madrid, Spain, to Rabat, Morocco. During the first leg of the flight from Payerne, Switzerland, to Madrid, the aircraft broke several further records for solar flight, including the longest solar-powered flight between pre-declared waypoints (1,099.3 km (683 mi)) and along a course (1,116 km (693 mi)).  Below is a video clip of CBS News 60 Minutes on Solar Impulse in December of 2012:


Construction of the second Solar Impulse aircraft, carrying the Swiss registration HB-SIB, started in 2011. It will feature a larger, pressurized cockpit and advanced avionics to allow for transcontinental and trans-oceanic flightsSupplemental oxygen and various other environmental support systems will allow the pilot to cruise at an altitude of 12,000 meters (39,000 ft). The wingspan of HB-SIB will be 80.0 m (262.5 ft), slightly wider than an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner,but unlike the 500-ton A380, the carbon-fibre Solar Impulse will weigh little more than an average automobile. Completion was planned for 2013, with a circumnavigation of the globe in 20–25 days in 2014. However, following a structural failure of the main spar during static tests, a more likely date for the circumnavigation is 2015. The flight would circle the world in the northern hemisphere, near the equator. Five stops are planned to allow changes of pilots. Each leg of the flight will last three to four days, limited by the physiology of each pilot. Once improved battery efficiency makes it possible to reduce the aircraft’s weight, a two-seater is envisaged to make a non-stop circumnavigation.

Gathered and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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13 January

The Upcoming American Solar Challenge in July of 2012


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If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much.

Hi, Every One,

If you enjoyed our coverage of the Veolia World Solar Challenge in Australia last year during October, Oct. 31, 2011 post ( and are interested in seeing solar car race in North America, then keep your calendar open in July of 2012 for American Solar Challenge (ASC),

previously known as Sunrayce.  The American Solar Challenge and North American Solar Challenge, is a solar car race across the United States and Canada.  Teams from universities and colleges of North America design, build, test, and race solar-powered vehicles on a route (from Tulsa (Broken Arrow), OK to Naperville, IL, about 1100 miles from June 20-26 of 2010
and from Dallas, TX to Calgary, Alberta, about 2500 miles from July 13-22 of 2008).

Originally called Sunrayce USA, the first race was organized and sponsored by General Motors in 1990 in an effort to promote automotive engineering and solar energy among college students. At the time, GM had just won the inaugural World Solar Challenge in Australia in 1987; rather than continue actively racing, it instead opted to sponsor collegiate events.

Subsequent races were held in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999 under the name Sunrayce [year] (e.g. Sunrayce 93). In 2001, the race was renamed American Solar Challenge and was sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Beginning in 2005, its name changed again to its present form to reflect the border crossing into Canada and the addition of co-sponsor Natural Resources Canada.  After the 2005 race,

American Solar Challenge started at Austin, TX in 2005

the U.S. Department of Energy discontinued its sponsorship, resulting in no scheduled race for 2007. The race is now sponsored byToyota.   The 1990 and 1993 races had a south-north orientation, intended to roughly match the Darwin-to-Adelaide, Australia, route of the World Solar Challenge. In 1995, race organizers opted for a mostly east-west route from Indianapolis to Colorado. In 2005, the ASC adopted its current route that follows a south-to-north orientation across the United States, then turns to the west upon reaching Canada.

Since 1995, the Race Director has been Dan Eberle, a professor at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri.

Below are rules obtained from the Wikipedia.  I will keep you posted if there should be any rules changes for this year.


  • Race consists of a series of timed stages between predetermined locations; all teams begin and end each stage in the same location
  • The team with the lowest overall elapsed time wins
  • The total area of all solar cells and related reflectors, etc. must not exceed 6 square meters
  • When the vehicle has stopped, the solar array may be reoriented toward the sun for charging batteries
  • Strict specifications and engineering scrutiny process is provided for vehicle configuration, safety requirements, and other standards
  • Teams in the race are divided into two categories; open and stock
  • Open class — Solar cells over $10 USD per watt (higher efficiency)
  • Stock class — From a pre-approved list of cells that are under $10 per watt
(Previous races also specified different battery technologies for the classes)
This year, 2012, the American Solar Challenge will take place between July 14-21, 2012,  from Rochester, NY to St. Paul, MN, with the scrutineering process taking place between July 6-9, 2012, at the Monticelle Motor Club in Monticello, NY and the Formula Sun Grand Prix taking place between July 10-12, 2012, at Monticello Club in Monticello, NY

written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,




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