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Was it here that somebody suggested putting solar panels on a hybrid to extend distance? I know that Tesla looked into it, figured it could add 2% to the range and was VERY EXPENSIVE.

Well, Toyota is doing it - to power PART OF the air conditioning.


The panels would be able to power part of the air-conditioning on high-end versions of the gasoline-electric Prius, the source said.

"It's more of a symbolic gesture," . . . . "It's very difficult to power much more than that with solar energy."
Full article:,1 ... 385,00.asp

Toyota to Install Solar Panels on Prius Hybrids
ARTICLE DATE: 07.07.08

By Reuters , eWEEK
TOKYO, July 7 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp plans to install solar panels on some Prius hybrids in its next remodelling, responding to growing demand for "green" cars amid record-high oil prices, a source briefed on the matter said on Monday.

The panels, supplied by Kyocera Corp, would be able to power part of the air-conditioning on high-end versions of the gasoline-electric Prius, the source said.

"It's more of a symbolic gesture," said the source, who asked not to be identified. "It's very difficult to power much more than that with solar energy."

Toyota is due to launch the third-generation Prius next year.

Big automakers are all racing to come up with alternative solutions to using fossil fuels to appear ecologically conscious and to lure consumers looking to save money at the pump.

But solar power is not seen as a viable solution to power cars. Solar panels are expensive due to rising silicon prices and storing energy is difficult, the source said. It was unknown how much the solar panels on the new Prius cars would cost, or how many solar-mounted versions Toyota would build.

A Toyota spokesman declined comment, saying the company does not talk about future product plans.

Toyota has struggled to keep up with demand for the Prius as soaring gasoline prices put consumers off of gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. Rival Honda Motor Co will also step up its hybrid push with a new, low-cost model early next year, followed by several other gasoline-electric cars.

Automakers have teamed up with battery makers to develop and produce lithium-ion batteries to store more energy in smaller packages to extend cruising distances.

Toyota has partnered with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, while Nissan Motor Co has a joint venture with the NEC Corp group and Mitsubishi Motors Corp is working with GS Yuasa Corp.

The Prius, the world's first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, first went on sale in Japan in late 1997 and in other markets in 2000. Cumulative sales have topped 1 million units worldwide.

Toyota has a goal of selling at least 1 million hybrid cars a year in the early part of the next decade by offering the fuel-saving system on more vehicles.

Toyota shares fell 0.2 percent to 4,910 yen during morning trade, while Kyocera was down 0.4 percent at 9,710 yen. The Nikkei average .N225 shed 0.1 percent. (Reporting by Mayumi Negishi, Sachi Izumi, Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Sophie Hardach)

Copyright (c) 2008Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Is this just a PR move or is it going to be an option for retail customers? Where I live, solar panels are useless due to the frequent overcast conditions.

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Thanks for the photo HybridArchitect. I regard the roof solar panel, as an obviously logical way to enhance existing technology. Does anyone over there, use solar panels on their caravans?. Not sure what caravans are known as in canada or america. It is basically a mobile and compact tiny home, that is towed with your car. Do they name them as " Home Trailers" over there?

HEGS51.....Latan....escapedtoy and Tribby know what i'm on about. Also i do not honestly know, how long a ice hockey season lasts for overseas. I apologise again if my ignorance was offending.

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caravans.. aka motor homes, campers, or small ones are campervans.

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Just browsing old posts....

To be accurate, the Prius' "solar roof" is only used to operate a fan to keep the interior near outside temperature. So it does not heat up inside as does a car sitting in the sun with the windows closed.

This has the advantage of allowing windows to be kept closed while parked on hot days, and means the a/c doesn't have to work as hard when the car is started. Which should mean a small fuel saving.

However, the solar roof is included only with a power sun roof, and this adds some weight to the car, which costs a little mileage.

The other item packaged with the solar roof is the ability to start the car's a/c remotely prior to entering the car. The car decides whether to power the a/c using the traction battery, or even turn on the motor to support the a/c if the traction battery is too low. Using this feature is bound to cost a little fuel consumption.

This is about a $1500 option. The black glass roof looks nice, though, especially with the red or white paint. I think it's the only way to get a sun roof on the current Prius. Reports that this setup interferes with mounting roof racks appear to be mistaken. There have been very rare reports that the solar panel can leak and corrode, resulting in an expensive repair.
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