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Toyota's Prius Prime will not offer solar panel roof In U.S.

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On: Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 3:05PM | By: Carl Malek

Toyota's Prius Prime will not offer solar panel roof In U.S.

When Toyota first unveiled the Prius Prime, it touted innovative fuel-saving features that would make the Prime stand out from the rest of its green competitors. One of these features is its roof, which incorporates solar panel technology to help recharge the battery and increase fuel economy. This will help to extend the Prime's driving range; but Toyota's plan to brighten the lives of Prime buyers in the U.S. has hit a snag due to safety regulations.

According to a report by Automotive News the problem is the way the solar panels are constructed. In this case, there isn't a lamination process available that can provide the type of resin needed to keep the roof and the integrated photovoltaic cells from shattering. This presents a problem when the vehicle rolls over, and when the vehicle undergoes crash testing in the U.S.; this is not an problem in Europe and Asia where different safety standards allow the solar panels to be used.

Despite this initial setback, Toyota is still keen on eventually offering this piece of optional equipment on its plug-in in the U.S., and we're hopeful that the technical hurdles can be overcome. Toyota plans to introduce the current generation Prius Prime to customers this fall. While the solar panels will be absent in the U.S, the plug-in will still offer 22 miles of all-electric driving range and initial estimates suggest that it is capable of achieving 120 miles per gallon-equivalent in overall fuel economy. As for the gas engine itself, Toyota claims that the Prime's engine can achieve a combined 52 mpg.

While the Prius Prime will be the first Prius to offer solar panels as a battery charging solution, the basic concept is not that new. It first appeared on the previous generation Prius, where it was offered as an option. However, instead of charging the battery, the system helped cool the car, thanks to a sunroof-mounted solar panel that powered a small roof-mounted fan that circulated cool air into the interior. However, the system worked only when the car was parked and when the cabin temperature exceeded a certain point.


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