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.
Smaller 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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