ONE OF THE MOST oft-cited criticisms of all-electric cars is that they indirectly pollute when charged using power generated from the burning of fossil fuels.
It's one of the main barriers to the widespread uptake of electric vehicles (EVs), especially in countries like Australia where most mains power is sourced from coal-burning power stations. However, Toyota believes it may have the answer.
The Japanese company has been busy working on solar-powered recharging bays for EVs, and will commence trials of the system in its hometown of Toyota City in April 2010.
Featuring enough room for three electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles (principally the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid), the roof of each charging station is formed by a large solar array. Charging output under solar power alone is limited to 1.5kW at 100 volts, but that rises to 3.2kW when connected to the local 200v power grid.
An 8.4 kWh auxillary battery stores any excess energy generated by the solar panels, and power can be fed back into the grid if the battery is full and no vehicles are being charged.
A total of 21 charging stations will be installed at 11 locations around Toyota City, however there's no information on when - or if - the technology will spread beyond the borders of Toyota's home base.