More details on Toyota's solar-powered Prius

Not only will the car feature a hybrid electric-gasoline engine and automatic self-parking, but it will soon get solar panels on the roof to power its air-conditioning system.

Toyota

We applaud any carmaker that harnesses the power of technology, particularly if it helps fuel economy, makes driving fun, or makes us look cool. That's why we launched the U.K. version of Car Tech.

So our ears perked up when we heard Toyota is upgrading its Prius. Not only will it feature a hybrid electric-gasoline engine and automatic self-parking (see its robot skills in action here ), but it will soon get solar panels on the roof to power its air-conditioning system.

That last bit might not sound too exciting, but it has potential. Automotive air-conditioning systems are usually powered by your car's engine, which has to work harder to keep the car moving and its occupants cool. By using a combination of a solar panel and an electric motor, Toyota is able to use the power of the sun against itself, save gas, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

It's a shame that these particular solar panels can't be used to power the entire vehicle, but there is hope: A U.S. company called SEV has already demonstrated a modified, solar-powered Prius that improves fuel economy by about 29 percent. According to SEV, this gives you a daily electric-only range of 20 miles.

We'll have to wait until 2009 to see whether Toyota's implementation makes a real difference, but in the meantime, you can watch our video review of the current Prius here .

(Source: Crave UK )

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