Toyota, Kyoto Startup to Partner on Bendable Solar Cells for EVs

Courtesy of EneCoat Technologies Co.
A bendable perovskite solar cell

Toyota Motor Corp. and a Kyoto Prefecture-based startup company announced on Tuesday that they will partner to develop next-generation perovskite solar cells (PSCs).

The cells are lighter and thinner than those made from crystalline silicon, the material used in solar panels on house roofs, and are bendable to boot. Plans are for them to be used in automobiles as early as 2026.

PSCs are made by coating a panel with a special organic compound that absorbs light. They can be installed to fit the shape of a car roof, and are expected to extend the cruising range of electric vehicles when used as a power source.

Toyota and the startup company — EneCoat Technologies Co. in Kumiyama, Kyoto Prefecture, which was established with the support of Kyoto University — signed a contract for joint development of PSCs in May. EneCoat, whose strength is in technology for applying uniform coats of organic compounds, will be in charge of developing materials and power generation elements while Toyota will be in charge of developing technology to install the cells on automobiles.

Toyota provides optional installations of solar cells for its EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles. For its new Prius plug-in launched in March, the cells are said to generate enough electricity to power the car over 1,200 kilometers a year. Toyota is seeking to improve solar cell performance to decarbonize its vehicles.