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Next-Gen Prius to Get Solar Panels

According to several reports, Toyota’s next-generation Prius, due out next year, will have the option for solar panels on its roof. Japanese newspaper Nikkei and Reuters are reporting that Kyocera will provide the solar panels, which would be able to power part of the 2- to 5-kilowatt air conditioning system.

But solar panels are generally more a symbol of green than an important power source. Reuters quotes a source who says the solar panels for the next-gen Prius are “more of a symbolic gesture,” as “it’s very difficult to power much more than that with solar energy.” According to this white paper a solar-powered Prius could drive between 5 to 8 miles on solar power alone, which could actually reduce gas consumption by 17 to 29 percent.

Solar-powered vehicles are not a new idea, and there are a variety of prototypes of alternative vehicles that have been designed with solar panels to provide extra green power, like this one out of Taiwan. But, as Marketwatch notes, Toyota’s Solar Prius “will make Toyota the first major automaker to install a popular model with solar panels.” In that sense, the fact that Toyota is adding solar as an option is notable.

19 Responses to “Next-Gen Prius to Get Solar Panels”

  1. MsChris

    Saving 17-25% on gas consumption would be more than just a symbolic gesture! And John @ 11:33pm makes a good point: solar roofed cars could add power to the grid, as well as recharge their own batteries.

  2. with solar powered mobile air conditioning all that toyota needs now is to use recycled CO2 (R744) as a refrigerant to be really environmentally friendly, thereby getting rid of R134a the Gobal Warming chemical that they currently use.

    With better fuel efficiency, no GWP, no ODP, R744 MACs are the perfect complement to solar panels. For more info go to

  3. It is an interesting idea, but I suspect that the very limited amount of power that can be generated this way will make it less useful as a feature for the individual user. Where I see this being more useful is in a vehicle-to-grid environment where a number of solar equipped cars can be used to provide power back to the grid while they sit parked in open air lots all day.

  4. There was a company making aftermarket toyota prius solar roofs, but its interesting how toyota saw the demand there and decided to offer solar as an option on their prius. Too bad there is not enough surface area to really provide some juice for the prius.