So our ears perked up when we heard Toyota is upgrading its Prius. Not only will it feature a hybrid electric-petrol engine and automatic self-parking (see its robot skillz in action), 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-con 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 solar panel and electric motor combo, Toyota is able to use the power of the sun against itself, save petrol, and reduce CO2 emissions.
It's a shame these particular solar panels can't be used to power the entire vehicle, but there is hope: a US company called SEV has already demonstrated a modified, solar-powered Prius that improves fuel economy by around 29 per cent. 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. -Rory Reid