Feeds

Prius hybrid to get rooftop solar panel

A £20 one from Maplins would do just as well

High performance access to file storage

Motor mammoth Toyota, maker of the famed Prius hybrid car, is rumoured to be thinking about fitting some new Prius models with solar panels. The possible move is unlikely to seriously affect the car's fuel consumption, however, and is being seen by some as a PR stunt.

Toyota is offering no official comment on the suggestions, which were first reported in Japanese business daily Nikkei. However, Reuters quotes an anonymous source "briefed on the matter" as saying that the plans were "a symbolic gesture" which would do little more than provide part of the power used by the Prius' air conditioning.

"It's very difficult to power much more than that with solar energy," added the informant.

This view certainly squares with the well-understood performance of solar panels, especially small ones which can be fitted onto a car roof (as the Prius ones will reportedly be). Such panels can already be bought as accessories, and one was also included in the recent "Provoq" concept fuel-cell hybrid design from GM. In neither case can large amounts of power - suited to actually propelling a car, rather than running ancillary electronics - be harvested in a reasonably short time. You'd have to leave your car parked in the sun for ages to charge up even a normal car battery, let alone one which could actually drive the car usefully. (Which the Prius' can't, by the way. Toyota has thus far turned its face resolutely away from cars which can store enough electricity to make journeys solely on battery power.)

Panels of this kind are still useful, however, as they can prevent a car's battery running flat while parked due to the constant trickle of power used by security systems and so forth. With a heftier hybrid battery, you might also be able to run the air-con for a bit longer while stationary before the engine had to fire up. This is probably all that Toyota actually intends to offer.

However, the Prius remains the only car being driven globally which is actually different from normal internal combustion jobs in its power-train engineering. Thus it attracts a great deal of eco-hype and attention, and the addition of a solar panel - even though it won't offer a lot more benefit than a twenty quid job from Maplins slipped into your sunroof shutter - will perhaps be seen as justifying a substantially bigger markup on the car price. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.