Next Generation Prius Sports Rooftop Solar Panels as an Option

Prius to offer solar rooftop panels on next generationThe next generation Toyota Prius, due out for the 2010 model year, will offer the option of rooftop solar panels. Produced by Kyocera, the panels are expected to produce no more than about 1 kilowatt of electricity.

That one kilowatt of electricity would only be enough to help power the ventilation and AC systems, something especially appreciated when getting in a car that’s been sitting in the sun for hours on a hot day. The solar panels would enable use of the interior fan to help keep the car cool when not in use.

Of course, the car would need to be parked in the sun, and if we continue this logic, if it isn’t parked in the sun, keeping it cool wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

Air conditioning systems put quite a load on the engine and reduce efficiency. Nonetheless, the idea of solar panels on a Prius is, as one anonymous Toyota insider put it,

“…more of a symbolic gesture. It’s very difficult to power much more than that [AC] with solar energy”

What surprised me most about this story is the response from the blogoshere.

Don’t shoot the messenger

I am fortunate enough to not have need for a car in my urban environs. Thus, I am agnostic on this issue.

Not everyone is.

While it sounds like a nifty idea initially, there are issues how effective the system would be in relation to the materials required to produce the panels, added weight, and whether Toyota is simply greenwashing the public.

My estimation of the general reaction to the idea is probably about 50/50 – but some of those against it are rather vehement in their opposition, one commenter not only condemning a blogger at EcoTechDaily, but the entire green movement as well. We can all just go to hell.

Perhaps the Prius (as I understand it, known to owners living in Berkeley as the “Pius”) is to the green movement what Al Gore is to climate change – a symbol of rage for the non-believers.

I couldn’t say, but I’d be interested to hear from readers of TriplePundit what they think of the idea.

Please don’t shoot the messenger.

Further reading:



Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists