If you love solar power and plug-in hybrid cars, we have some good, and some bad news for you.
The good news is the next-generation Toyota Plug-In Prius gets a solar roof. The bad news is you can only get the roof in select global markets like Japan or Europe, at least for now.
The issue is the panels don’t meet U.S. crash tests because they are installed on reinforced glass sheeting that shatters in the event of a rollover. Apparently, that’s not a problem in markets where it can be sold.
The new Plug-In Prius is dubbed the Prius Prime in America and the Prius PHV in Japan. The solar panel on the Europe-spec version will help charge the batteries and boost fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent since it means you can drive longer on all-electric.
Toyota wants very much to bring the technology to the U.S and says it’s working on a way to make the panels U.S. crash-test friendly. However, according to Automotive News, Prius Chief Engineer Koji Toyoshima says Toyota doesn’t currently have the technology to laminate the photovoltaic cells in a resin that won’t shatter dangerously in a rollover crash.
“We would like to introduce this, at least in the lifetime of the current model,” Toyoshima said Wednesday at the car’s Japan debut. “It should be possible to do a lot of charging this way in places like California or Arizona.”
Oh and by the way, the solar panels on the Prius PHV doesn’t just recharge the battery. They also help power lamps, power windows and air conditioning while the car is running.
Related Video: Prius Prime Reveal
Photo Credit: Toyota