New Toyota Prius has rooftop solar panels, is 10% more fuel-efficient

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We reported it last year in July and Toyota is to deliver very soon: The world’s biggest automaker today announced the newest version of their Prius hybrid vehicle, due out in Japan in May, will be equipped with solar panels. Toyota claims the new model will also come with a brawnier and more fuel-efficient engine (the picture shows a model from last year).

The engine will be a 1.8-liter type, which is 300cc bigger than the version available in Prius cars sold at the moment. According to Toyota, it saves around 10% of fuel when compared to existing Prius engines, running around 35km on a liter of gas.

What’s surely more interesting though is the solar power aspect. The rooftop solar panels are supposed to charge the battery whenever the car is parked. Toyota says drivers can use solar energy to power the air conditioner and other parts of the car.

Prices in Japan range between $21,000 and $26,000, depending on extras. The company’s Japanese website doesn’t offer any official information at this point so the news is yet to be confirmed.

Via Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]

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