Toyota Has Solar-Powered Prius In The Works

Dennis Faas's picture

Wouldn't it be great if air conditioning didn't suck the life out of your car (and your wallet)? Well, hybrid energy is getting a major face lift, all in the name of finding a separate power source for the air conditioning in hybrid vehicles.

Rumors in the Japanese media are swirling that the next generation Prius may be the first hybrid car to include solar panels. Although Toyota has not made an official announcement, the media has jumped on the story. (Source:

Thus far, the Prius has sold over 1 million vehicles and is due for its third edition soon.

The new solar-panel roofs will direct energy to one of the most energy-demanding components of any vehicle -- air conditioning. The development makes good sense; since air conditioning is used mostly when the sun's rays are at their strongest, solar panels can direct energy directly to the air conditioning of the Prius exactly when that extra energy is both needed and sunlight is readily available.

Reports say that the new panels, which will provide a portion of the necessary 2-5Kw to power the a/c units in the Prius, will be available as early as next spring. (Source:

However, Toyota is not the only car dealer toying with the idea of solar energy. Reports indicate that Porsche and Fisker have released similar plans. Porche will be applying the initiative to its 2009 Cayenne hybrid SUV and Panama hybrid sedans, while Fisker will be doing the same with its Karma sedan. (Source:

With all the rumors, Toyota has only confirmed that they will be distributing a plug-in Prius, available in 2010.

Even though there has been no formal comment from the auto giant, it seems likely that Toyota will be developing the solar technology. Above all, Toyota will have to keep itself abreast of the latest technology, especially since both Porsche and Fisker have announced similar plans, in order to remain cutting edge in the hybrid car market.

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