TOKYO, July 8, 2008 -- Amid record high oil prices and the global push to reduce carbon emissions, Toyota Motor is planning to install solar panels on their high-end, third-generation Prius hybrids, slated for release next year.
The move would make Toyota the first major automaker to incorporate a solar-power generation system into a mass-produced car.
Despite the rising cost of silicon solar panels and the difficulty storing solar energy, this move is seen more as a symbolic gesture than a viable solution. The solar panels, which are said to be supplied by Kyocera, would be able to power
only part of the air conditioning system. Toyota has not yet confirmed the reports.
Prius has, thus far, dominated the “green” market and subsequently has had difficulty keeping up with demand, while other big automakers are racing for alternative solutions to using fossil fuels in hopes of softening their image by being
seen as ecologically and globally conscious.
Unfortunately, the reality is that solar energy cannot provide the energy needed to make a substantial difference in energy conversion, as of yet.
The Prius, the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, first went on sale in Japan in late 1997 and has since topped 1 million units in sales 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.
For more information, visit: www.kyocerasolar.com