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Toyota Tries to Keep Wraps Under Solar Car

Source: Environmental, June 22, 2009

Toyota reportedly is developing a car that would be charged solely by solar, reports the Associated Press. The futuristic car is years away from market, however, the report notes. From a story originally published in the Nikkei newspaper and not verified by Toyota, the automaker’s solar car would get some of its power from solar cells on the vehicle, and the rest from solar panels on the rooftop of the home where the car is parked.

Eventually, Toyota’s goal is make a car completely powered by solar cells on the vehicle. The Toyota Prius prototype pictured above, equipped with solar panels, is not likely to be the solar car in Toyota’s future.  At a factory in Japan, Toyota has been using rooftop solar panels to produce electricity equivalent to the amount needed to power 500 homes. The system cuts 740 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually from Toyota’s carbon footprint.

Toyota’s partner in developing and producing hybrid batteries, Panasonic Corp., is set to complete its takeover of Japanese rival Sanyo Electric Co., a leader in solar energy, early next year. That development should hasten Toyota’s push into solar cars. Last year, the ship carrier for Toyota’s auto exports began experimenting with solar panels atop the ship. Earlier this year, Toyota gained the coveted pace car position for several NASCAR races, using its hybrid Camry.