Japan's business news source, Nikkei (subscription only), has reported that Toyota is planning a Prius with solar panels manufactured by Kyocera Corp. Toyota has not confirmed the reports. If Toyota achieves the rumored timing, it will be the first major manufacturer to bring a car with integrated solar panels to the mass market.
Toyota has not unveiled any design plans for the solar panels: pictured above is an artist's conception of how the Solar Prius might look. The solar panels will power the air conditioning on the world's most popular hybrid car. The last major revamp of the Prius power system was an upgrade of the hybrid synergy drive in 2003. The third generation Prius is due to be unveiled in 2009 for the 2010 model year.The rumor mill has immediately added speculations that solar panel plans may be in the works for additional hybrid car models. The Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid is also eagerly anticipated after recent announcements. The plug-in Prius is expected to benefit from an upgrade of the NiMH batteries to Lithium-ion batteries.
The Solar Prius topic is already heating up in the TreeHugger Forums, so pop on over and make your voice heard!
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