Hi, I think the solar on top has great merit, I have priced up the ultra thin panels for the roof and decided for fun to add them to the door sides as well, more for advertising solar than for practicality though.
May also help in a crash as it doubles the door skin, grin.
But seriously, the biggest hassle in recharging at least in NZ, is getting permission to instal charger points on land not owned by yourself, the fees one needs to usually pay, while only a $ 5 per day are at $ 35 per week each station, plus the power and the charger itself, nearly equivalent to the cost of giveing away free petrol !
It only works out if there is a lot of other cars using the points and they pay something towards it and at the moment, I think there are only 30 electric cars in the whole of NZ, and only dealer cars here where I live, no recharging points yet, bar of course asking a firm to lend their 240 Volt supplies, which it the most common home socket here in NZ.
So having a way of independently recharging via solar or a gas or diesel generator in the boot for long trips is pretty good as an idea.
Practical, I think so, expensive, ?, yes definitely and say overall a Toyota Prius would work out more economically.
But for those of us who really really want to own and run completely on solar, then costs seem to matter a wee bit less, still important but not so important as being clean and green .
So cost aside for a bit, and with the light weight of the panels not being too much of an issue, the thin film solar is a good idea, the batteries if using these type http://www.aasolar.co.nz/AASolarLithium ... eries.html
note NZ $, means the weight of batteries for a 500 amp hour set up is not bad at around 55 Kg.
So for minimal extra weight, one could recharge, based on a say a steady 200 watts on a 380 watt set of panels over a working 8 hour day, another 1.6 Kw which added to the 13.7 volts x 500 amps, would give about 8 Kw allowing for some inefficiencies in total to about half charge the car.
That means on say a trip of 100 km, where the trip to work was 50 km, leaving the battery half flat, the solar and battery capacity combined could mean after work, one could easily get home and have half charge left which would allow for a side trip or reduce anxiety on the way home if 100km was the max normal range.
True, one could also do the same by having say 7 x 100 amp hour batteries and no solar, for a weight of only I think of 70 Kg, which is less than a passenger, and this would, with an inverter, give the required 8 Kw or recharge for the day also.
Almost every person we showed the imiev to while we had it on testing days, all said but what if on our trip we forget something or have to deviate on the trip to work. The people we asked had work ranges of 55 km each way to work, and 40 km each way to work and all felt if it had 120 Km range it would be ideal as a work car. This system would give a 155 km range, without needing a plug point except on return to home.
This extra capacity would allow them to use up the full 16 Kw if needed,and yet after a day's work recharging, not needing parking near a power point, simply a normal carpark, be all ready for the 55 km trip home.
If they never had more than one passenger, they could add even more batteries to be able to recharge a full 16 Kw and only add another 130 odd Kg. less than two passengers weight. Using a 20 Kw pack. This would then give a 200 Km range.
Fold down the back seats and one could balance the weight better. Of course if one kitted it right, one could also remove the packs for days where the trips were shorter.
Question is, would we do it, the Imev is great as it is for around town, but our driving needs a longer range, and based on the payback period, if we don't do at least 100 km per day, every day, then at a 240, 000 to 320, 000 km needed to be travelled, it will take about 7 years to repay on fuel savings alone.
Simply put, the imiev at current pricing in NZ simply won't pay for itself in our required shorter 5 years we base most work purchases on, unless we do about 130 Km per day.
That means we need to be able to fast charge or at least recharge anywhere independently while at work.
Yes the battery pack will add to the cost of the car substantially, but also increase the resale value when we sell the car after 5 years, and perhaps get us home when no other way will easily work.
If only they put in 28 Kw from factory, it would be great. I would be happy to lose having a back seat if they say left cargo space on top of the higher floor level.
Almost every person I spoke to said yes this 16 Kw imiev would work with work travel, but they / we would only buy it if it had more range. I think if they added a optional battery pack, to say 28 Kw, and no back seats, it would sell way better.
Range is pretty much everything that stops sales here.
Currently only 4 imievs sold in NZ, been on sale I think for one year. If I was selling them, I would invest in infrastructure to support them for tourist used main routes. In fact, we are negotiating now with Japan, on getting a 20 Kw fast charger for testing and if it goes ok, we will use them on the route from Christchurch to Picton and from Christchurch to Akaroa.
Getting permission for the siting on land owned by others is expensive, so we are looking for council sites where we can and buying a multi use property, for the areas not covered by a council site.
It is a lot of investment and for the number of cars here at present not really viable, but we think the number of cars that will like having a recharge point if not expensive as petrol to refuel.