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Published on July 7th, 2008 | by Nick Chambers

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Toyota Prius to Get Solar Power


Toyota’s next generation Prius, due out as early as next spring, will be outfitted with solar panels to help run the on-board electronics, according to a report from the Nikkei newspaper.

Prius BadgeSmaller start-up car companies, such as Th!nk, have plans for solar power augmented cars on the books too, but the incorporation of solar panels on the Prius would mark the first time a major car manufacturer has done such a thing with one of its models.

Currently in its second generation, the third generation Prius has been widely anticipated for some time now. Due for a complete overhaul, the addition of solar panels to the Prius would corroborate the expectation of major changes in both style and function in the next generation model.

According to Marketwatch, the Nikkei reported that the solar panels would provide a portion of the two to five kilowatts needed to power the air conditioning unit. The solar panels would be supplied by Kyocera.

Toyota plans to pump up production of the Prius next year to 450,000 units. This would represent a 60% increase in production over 2007 numbers, Marketwatch also reported.

Although that sounds promising, Toyota has kind of dropped the ball this year by failing to meet demand for the popular hybrid and causing a worldwide Prius shortage. Blaming a lack of battery production capacity, Toyota has promised to open another battery facility soon.

Let’s hope they can actually meet demand for the Prius next year, especially if they plan on including such excellent and logical features as solar powered on-board electronics, like a solar powered air conditioner.

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About the Author

Not your traditional car guy.



  • Uncle B

    Toyota needs to come out with a two seater commuter special with a Prius style powertrain to save the lifestyle and jobs of those Americans who have invested in McMansions out in the ‘burbs or further from their jobs. As gasoline gets more expensive these poor folks get hurt by falling home values and tighter personal cash flows. They need a Toyota-tough tandem two seater hybrid electric with plug-in capability. Such a machine can do an end-run around the Volt and saturate that market with a practical, realistic alternative to the SUV. VW had the product for this desperate market gap, but opted for reasons only European business-folk understand to walk away, in deciding not to put their turbo bio-diesel, hybrid electric plug in wonder car into production for North America. Maybe Toyota sees a chance to make a fair buck here and will fill the gap?

  • Uncle B

    Toyota needs to come out with a two seater commuter special with a Prius style powertrain to save the lifestyle and jobs of those Americans who have invested in McMansions out in the ‘burbs or further from their jobs. As gasoline gets more expensive these poor folks get hurt by falling home values and tighter personal cash flows. They need a Toyota-tough tandem two seater hybrid electric with plug-in capability. Such a machine can do an end-run around the Volt and saturate that market with a practical, realistic alternative to the SUV. VW had the product for this desperate market gap, but opted for reasons only European business-folk understand to walk away, in deciding not to put their turbo bio-diesel, hybrid electric plug in wonder car into production for North America. Maybe Toyota sees a chance to make a fair buck here and will fill the gap?

  • Nick Chambers

    @ Uncle B

    If not Toyota, hopefully somebody will fill this niche soon. There are many smaller car companies out there making cars like what you describe that are due to hit the market in the next 12 months.

  • http://cashcratetips.weebly.com JW

    Sorry but Hybrids are not the way to go, I like my SUV with its V8 on the long drive back and forth to work each day.

  • http://cashcratetips.weebly.com JW

    Sorry but Hybrids are not the way to go, I like my SUV with its V8 on the long drive back and forth to work each day.

  • SID STERNICK

    HONDA COULD START PRODUCING THE INSIGHT AGAIN. THIS WOULD GIVE US A 2 SEAT HYBRID

    AND POSSIBLY 60 MPG

    RIGHT NOW MY SON GETS 40 MPG WITH HIS INSIGHT AND DEALERS DO NOT KNOW WHY.

  • SID STERNICK

    HONDA COULD START PRODUCING THE INSIGHT AGAIN. THIS WOULD GIVE US A 2 SEAT HYBRID

    AND POSSIBLY 60 MPG

    RIGHT NOW MY SON GETS 40 MPG WITH HIS INSIGHT AND DEALERS DO NOT KNOW WHY.

  • Henry Gibson

    Toyota is getting a large amount of news for what is just a publicity stunt that confuses people that think that there is enough energy in the sunlight falling on a regular car to power it. Electricity from solar cells costs far more than electricity from high priced diesel which is about $0.50 per KWH. The maximum energy from three square yards of solar cells of the best kind is about one horsepower with full sun, and you would never get enough electricity over a period of ten years to pay for the cost of the cell arrays. The reason for high prices gasoline is because the stock market is collapsing and everybody who would have speculated on Microsoft now is speculating on crude oil, and politicians will not stop this buying of an artificially limited resource. The US companies could produce three time the crude at this now three times the price, but they don’t want to invest a dime that would reduce their profits, and they know that oil come out of the ground at the cost of less than $20 a barrel, even in the US. Tar sands oil is produced for less than $35. The politician who are now pretending to stop global warming and destruction of ecology are ruining the US economy which relies on cheap energy, and actually starving many people, even in the US to death.. ..HG..

  • Henry Gibson

    Toyota is getting a large amount of news for what is just a publicity stunt that confuses people that think that there is enough energy in the sunlight falling on a regular car to power it. Electricity from solar cells costs far more than electricity from high priced diesel which is about $0.50 per KWH. The maximum energy from three square yards of solar cells of the best kind is about one horsepower with full sun, and you would never get enough electricity over a period of ten years to pay for the cost of the cell arrays. The reason for high prices gasoline is because the stock market is collapsing and everybody who would have speculated on Microsoft now is speculating on crude oil, and politicians will not stop this buying of an artificially limited resource. The US companies could produce three time the crude at this now three times the price, but they don’t want to invest a dime that would reduce their profits, and they know that oil come out of the ground at the cost of less than $20 a barrel, even in the US. Tar sands oil is produced for less than $35. The politician who are now pretending to stop global warming and destruction of ecology are ruining the US economy which relies on cheap energy, and actually starving many people, even in the US to death.. ..HG..

  • Henry Gibson

    Toyota is getting a lot of free notice for perpetuating the falsehood that the solar energy falling on a car can power it. Three square yards of the best efficiency solar cells would yield a peak of one horse power. The price of the cells would never be paid back compared to high priced diesel produced energy even. ($0.50/KwH) Solar is not a current answer to transportation energy nor a future answer except for a limited number of wealthy people.. ..HG..

  • Henry Gibson

    Toyota is getting a lot of free notice for perpetuating the falsehood that the solar energy falling on a car can power it. Three square yards of the best efficiency solar cells would yield a peak of one horse power. The price of the cells would never be paid back compared to high priced diesel produced energy even. ($0.50/KwH) Solar is not a current answer to transportation energy nor a future answer except for a limited number of wealthy people.. ..HG..

  • http://www.sciencesays.net Jeff – ScienceSays.net

    Even if the solar panels aren’t a commuter-special, they’ll cut way back on gas useage by defraying the air conditioner’s power drain

  • http://www.sciencesays.net Jeff – ScienceSays.net

    Even if the solar panels aren’t a commuter-special, they’ll cut way back on gas useage by defraying the air conditioner’s power drain

  • http://www.sciencesays.net Jeff – ScienceSays.net

    Even if Toyota doesn’t switch to a 2-seat commuter car, the solar-powered air conditioner will make another huge dent in the fuel usage and cost of the commute.

  • http://www.sciencesays.net Jeff – ScienceSays.net

    Even if Toyota doesn’t switch to a 2-seat commuter car, the solar-powered air conditioner will make another huge dent in the fuel usage and cost of the commute.

  • Russell Armstrong

    Have I missed some fantastic solar efficiency breakthrough or are the fact checkers asleep at the calculator? The best incident solar energy is what, about 800w/sq m? Even if the Prius was COVERED in solar panels at an average 10% efficiency, would you even get 1kW from the whole thing? Dont get me wrong; I think some built in solar aux power is a good idea.

    But this is a lot of hype, just like the car to a large degree. I had a 97 Honda Civic HX coupe that looked sharp and still got 43 mpg after I ran the heck out of it for 150k miles. But I applaud Toyota for knowing their customers.

    I swear we are at the height of ignorance in this country. Our industrial economy comes down to one equation— Energy use/person ~ $$$/person (dont start about energy efficiency… the above still holds true in the long run) I realize many very smart people are working on ethanol, oilgae, et al. I read this blog every day hoping to see that slam dunk technology that changes the ballgame. I aint seen it yet, and what I have seen is apparently a decade from making a serious run at oil.

    There are only three solutions in the short term, and everybody knows it:

    1. Drill, drill, and then drill some more

    2. Let the market work – if the price is artificially high, the speculating idiots will take the bath they deserve when we all make permanent lifestyle changes that drastically lower demand.

    3. Let the market work, pt II – If the price is not artificial, eventually we will have an alternative BECAUSE THERE IS TOO MUCH MONEY AT STAKE NOT TO!

    Lastly, I’m sick of hearing how we are ‘addicted’ to oil. This implies that there is some emotional aspect that isnt there. Gasoline stinks, and its dangerous. I assure you, if I could run my car off cherry KoolAid, I would be a KoolAid runnin’ redneck. Instead, I am being forced to drink the KoolAid – with a smile – because I’m saving the planet.

  • Russell Armstrong

    Have I missed some fantastic solar efficiency breakthrough or are the fact checkers asleep at the calculator? The best incident solar energy is what, about 800w/sq m? Even if the Prius was COVERED in solar panels at an average 10% efficiency, would you even get 1kW from the whole thing? Dont get me wrong; I think some built in solar aux power is a good idea.

    But this is a lot of hype, just like the car to a large degree. I had a 97 Honda Civic HX coupe that looked sharp and still got 43 mpg after I ran the heck out of it for 150k miles. But I applaud Toyota for knowing their customers.

    I swear we are at the height of ignorance in this country. Our industrial economy comes down to one equation— Energy use/person ~ $$$/person (dont start about energy efficiency… the above still holds true in the long run) I realize many very smart people are working on ethanol, oilgae, et al. I read this blog every day hoping to see that slam dunk technology that changes the ballgame. I aint seen it yet, and what I have seen is apparently a decade from making a serious run at oil.

    There are only three solutions in the short term, and everybody knows it:

    1. Drill, drill, and then drill some more

    2. Let the market work – if the price is artificially high, the speculating idiots will take the bath they deserve when we all make permanent lifestyle changes that drastically lower demand.

    3. Let the market work, pt II – If the price is not artificial, eventually we will have an alternative BECAUSE THERE IS TOO MUCH MONEY AT STAKE NOT TO!

    Lastly, I’m sick of hearing how we are ‘addicted’ to oil. This implies that there is some emotional aspect that isnt there. Gasoline stinks, and its dangerous. I assure you, if I could run my car off cherry KoolAid, I would be a KoolAid runnin’ redneck. Instead, I am being forced to drink the KoolAid – with a smile – because I’m saving the planet.

  • Skinpro

    If you go use Solar pannels in your company you can charge your prius for free while you are at work solar power is free, according to klugesolar.com the time is now for your company to go green and if they can’t affor to buy the photovoltaic system they can get a power purchase agreement! same in your home if you have solar energy and a plug-in toyota Prius your cost for charging your car is free! if you drive below 44 mph you will only use the electric motor.

    in most metropolitan areas of the country you never drive over 40 due to heavy traffic (at least that is the way in CA, NY, and FL) in Japan by using plug in hybrids the cars are giving them more than 200 MPG (it all depends on how fast you drive and how far and various variables)

  • Skinpro

    If you go use Solar pannels in your company you can charge your prius for free while you are at work solar power is free, according to klugesolar.com the time is now for your company to go green and if they can’t affor to buy the photovoltaic system they can get a power purchase agreement! same in your home if you have solar energy and a plug-in toyota Prius your cost for charging your car is free! if you drive below 44 mph you will only use the electric motor.

    in most metropolitan areas of the country you never drive over 40 due to heavy traffic (at least that is the way in CA, NY, and FL) in Japan by using plug in hybrids the cars are giving them more than 200 MPG (it all depends on how fast you drive and how far and various variables)

  • Wyodiver

    Just drive down-hill all the time. You will be fine. Gas will hit $6.50 in the US before summer is over. Don’t like it? Don’t vote Republican.

  • Wyodiver

    Just drive down-hill all the time. You will be fine. Gas will hit $6.50 in the US before summer is over. Don’t like it? Don’t vote Republican.

  • Isabaugh

    I am looking at the Mercedes Smart Car it uses gas but gets 40-50 miles to the gallon. I am not sure of the hybrid by the time you pay the cost of car and insurance you have spent more than you would no gas in the long run. But I did look at the ones out there – they are cute but not for me.

  • Isabaugh

    I am looking at the Mercedes Smart Car it uses gas but gets 40-50 miles to the gallon. I am not sure of the hybrid by the time you pay the cost of car and insurance you have spent more than you would no gas in the long run. But I did look at the ones out there – they are cute but not for me.

  • nickcdll

    That is by far the most high tech “toyota prius” graphic / pic I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. thank u !!!

  • nickcdll

    That is by far the most high tech “toyota prius” graphic / pic I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. thank u !!!

  • Eric E

    Current solar panels would require a space the size of a small garage to power an air conditioner, certainly very little will come from a little panel on the roof of the Prius.

    This is just another case of Toyota stealing free publicity with another idea that will not likely be implemented anyway.

  • Eric E

    Current solar panels would require a space the size of a small garage to power an air conditioner, certainly very little will come from a little panel on the roof of the Prius.

    This is just another case of Toyota stealing free publicity with another idea that will not likely be implemented anyway.

  • JImm y

    Wow dude I like that idea very much.

    JT

    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • JImm y

    Wow dude I like that idea very much.

    JT

    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • Alan

    I seem to recall that a 1990′s Mazda 929 could be equipped with a solar powered fan that ran while the car was parked to keep it cool. I suppose that doesn’t count as a “major car manufacturer” or “solar power augmented car.”

  • Alan

    I seem to recall that a 1990′s Mazda 929 could be equipped with a solar powered fan that ran while the car was parked to keep it cool. I suppose that doesn’t count as a “major car manufacturer” or “solar power augmented car.”

  • Mikey

    this is a great blog! thx u for the information. I’m trying to learn more about the so-called “green” automobiles and wanted to know if there is a list of all the manufacturers that are producing such cars. Does such a think exist. I can guarantee that only a couple of my friends know about a company such as Th!nk, and so I wanted to learn about all the types of companies that exist.

    Thank in advance for your help. Great work Gas2.0!

  • Mikey

    this is a great blog! thx u for the information. I’m trying to learn more about the so-called “green” automobiles and wanted to know if there is a list of all the manufacturers that are producing such cars. Does such a think exist. I can guarantee that only a couple of my friends know about a company such as Th!nk, and so I wanted to learn about all the types of companies that exist.

    Thank in advance for your help. Great work Gas2.0!

  • http://none David L

    Good God, no one is claiming that solar panels are going to replace gas as a fuel for cars. It is simply another way of HELPING to charge the battery on board. Nothing more. The benefit of solar panels incorporated into the body design is most evident in plug-in hybrids, where the battery is used to a greater extent. The idea is that you drive to work, use a substantial amount of battery charge, and while your car is parked all day, it is getting the battery recharged SOME. ANY amount of help is good. So what if it costs extra? It is a one-time purchase and in the end is that much less you have to spend on your own electricity and liquid fuel. It is a good idea, period.

  • Mike

    I think the Prius is a great car, but how useful are solar panels going to be?

    http://buyingadvice.com/

  • Mike

    I think the Prius is a great car, but how useful are solar panels going to be?

    http://buyingadvice.com/

  • Jeff

    In the aggregate if every car on the planet had solar it would make a difference. However, it would only add about a mile a day to your energy use and only if you were in a very sunny place all day long. Solar panels belong on the roof of buildings where they can be used at a proper orientation to the sun all day every day and amortize their costs over the next 30 years. Then you can use the power for your home and car and return the rest to the grid(meter runs backwards) making a big impact, instead of the symbolism of on the car. Homes with solar have much higher resale values.

  • Jeff

    In the aggregate if every car on the planet had solar it would make a difference. However, it would only add about a mile a day to your energy use and only if you were in a very sunny place all day long. Solar panels belong on the roof of buildings where they can be used at a proper orientation to the sun all day every day and amortize their costs over the next 30 years. Then you can use the power for your home and car and return the rest to the grid(meter runs backwards) making a big impact, instead of the symbolism of on the car. Homes with solar have much higher resale values.

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  • http://www.motorcarscleveland.com Dee Mullen

    I think it is amazing that they are trying to use solar technology for vehicles. That means less the car owner has to spend in the long run for whatever features the solar panels are used to power. That, and I think it is a step in a positive direction towards “saving” the world from all of the noxious gas we spill into it with industrial-type technologies.

  • http://www.motorcarscleveland.com Dee Mullen

    I think it is amazing that they are trying to use solar technology for vehicles. That means less the car owner has to spend in the long run for whatever features the solar panels are used to power. That, and I think it is a step in a positive direction towards “saving” the world from all of the noxious gas we spill into it with industrial-type technologies.

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  • BlueGreen55

    To all of you naysayer/objectionists out there I have two things to say. First, STOP the “pay back” nonsense. There is no payback on ANY vehicle, period. It is silly to complain about hybrid, PHEV, or solar costs or inject payback periods into the discussion when there is no payback at all on 2 inch rims, turbo chargers, V8s and V6s, 6 disc CD players, leather seats, etc.

    Second, I have had it with all of the complaining because something new and different is not 100% perfect. Almost any of the technological advances we use today really sucked when they first came out. They had convenience problems, technology integration issues, cost prohibitions, etc. Think Cell phones, GPS devices, PCs, Plasma TVs, LCD TVs, Interent connectivity, etc. The list is too long to continue but I think you get the idea.

    So I applaud the SPIRIT if what Toyota is doing. They spent 2 billion dollars in the 90′s to perfect hybrid technology while our own auto companies went the short term profit route and stopped innovating. It looks like Toyota is going to beat them again.

  • BlueGreen55

    To all of you naysayer/objectionists out there I have two things to say. First, STOP the “pay back” nonsense. There is no payback on ANY vehicle, period. It is silly to complain about hybrid, PHEV, or solar costs or inject payback periods into the discussion when there is no payback at all on 2 inch rims, turbo chargers, V8s and V6s, 6 disc CD players, leather seats, etc.

    Second, I have had it with all of the complaining because something new and different is not 100% perfect. Almost any of the technological advances we use today really sucked when they first came out. They had convenience problems, technology integration issues, cost prohibitions, etc. Think Cell phones, GPS devices, PCs, Plasma TVs, LCD TVs, Interent connectivity, etc. The list is too long to continue but I think you get the idea.

    So I applaud the SPIRIT if what Toyota is doing. They spent 2 billion dollars in the 90′s to perfect hybrid technology while our own auto companies went the short term profit route and stopped innovating. It looks like Toyota is going to beat them again.

  • http://www.clockout.org employee clockin clockout

    I doubt it having solar planels would yeild enough power to power the AC. Seems like a gimmic to me…

  • http://www.clockout.org employee clockin clockout

    I doubt it having solar planels would yeild enough power to power the AC. Seems like a gimmic to me…

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