Toyota developing solar powered green car
January 6, 2009
Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a solar-powered vehicle as an alternative to its popular hybrid Prius and Camry models, the Associated Press is reporting.
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Toyota, which also builds luxury-themed Lexus cars, is developing the program in two stages. First, the automaker is working on a method to power a car partially from built-in solar cells, and then recharged via electricity generated from solar panels on the roofs of homes, according to The Nikkei, a leading business daily in Japan. Later, the next step will be to develop a version that's totally powered by solar cells mounted on the car. In both cases, production models are still years away.
Today, Toyota uses solar panels at its central Japan plant to produce some electricity, according to the article. "The solar panels on the roofs add up in size to the equivalent of 60 tennis courts and produce enough electricity to power 500 homes," Toyota said in a statement. "That reduces 740 tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions and is equal to using 1,500 barrels of crude oil."
Toyota is also likely to indirectly gain expertise in solar energy when its partner in developing and producing hybrid batteries, Panasonic Corp., takes over Japanese rival Sanyo Electric Co., a leader in solar energy, early next year.
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