Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Driving on sunshine, whoa oh!.."* -- Hymotion, Solera and Veridian Test Solar PHEV Prius

Ontario, Canada-based Hymotion, the conversion kit suppliers for the Toronto PHEV test project, are moving right along. Hymotion have now added a solar panel to one of their converted PHEV Prius cars. Result: up to 14 km of "driving on sunshine" on a sunny summer day!

There is actually a history of such projects in Canada. In 2005, Steve Lapp, an engineer from Kingston, Ontario, had attached a solar roof rack to a "generation 1" (2001) Prius. He reportedly "...achieved an initial 10% fuel efficiency improvement". But "generation 2" (2004 or later) Prius can stay in EV mode longer than "generation 1" models. Therefore, Hymotion (and most competing PHEV conversion projects) have focused on the newer Prius. The fact that Hymotion now has major corporate backing for this idea (from Veridian Corp. and Solera in Durham Region, east of Toronto) shows that the concept is gaining momentum.

Moreover, Hymotion is now part of U.S.-based A123 Systems, who happen to be among battery suppliers being tested for GM's PHEV program. Will we see a solar-powered (or at least solar-augmented) Chevy Volt in the future? Stay tuned!

In the meantime, the Veridian Press Release says that
"The vehicle was recently on show at the Green Living Show drawing interest from [Ontario] Premier [Dalton] McGuinty, and many of the Ministers on hand to kick off the Green Show."
Let's hope that these politicians have finally gotten a clue, and would start promoting these types of technologies as the basis for future automotive policy in Ontario.

* With apologies to Kimberley Rew and Katrina and the Waves, who originally wrote and performed "Walking on Sunshine".

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