Toyota unveils Prius covered in solar panels

The electric vehicle (EV) announcement to have grabbed most of the headlines this week is BMW’s launch of its first fully electric Mini Cooper, which is due to go on sale next year at a list price of £24,400.

But perhaps a more innovative EV to have emerged this month is Toyota’s futuristic Prius Prime with ultra-thin solar panels on its roof, bonnet and tailgate. The plug-in hybrid demonstration car uses Sharp’s modified solar cells to recharge its batteries, both when it is parked and when it is in motion. Toyota claims that is able to travel almost 28 miles on solar power alone before a mains recharge or a switch to petrol needs to be made, compares to just 3.8 miles for the model’s predecessor.

The model is currently in the demonstration stage, with Toyota not yet having published any plans to scale up production after initial trials in Japan. However, the carmaker is widely expected to include it, or another solar-powered model, in its next line-up.

“The PV-powered Vehicle Strategy Committee, sponsored by NEDO and others, will evaluate the benefits based on improvements in CO2 emissions reductions and convenience, such as the number of times a vehicle needs recharging,” Toyota said in a statement.

“The goal is to contribute to the creation of a new solar battery panel market, including the transport sector, and to find new solutions for energy and environmental issues.”

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