New Prius adds solar panels for air conditioning

Rumors run rampant about a Toyota Prius redesign coming up next year, but little did we know that the new version would have solar panels added to the hybrid vehicle’s roof. That’s a first for any automaker. The optional solar array will be used to run the car's air conditioning, and isn’t solar air conditioning a great idea? Use the sun — the monster that’s making it like an oven inside that car — to cool off the car's interior. It's like energy Judo.

So this new Prius is going to be quite an improvement over its predecessor. Scuttlebutt is flying around about the new design, including reports of a more powerful and efficient engine that gets 55mpg (some early reports even mentioned 100mpg), a plug-in version, a smaller addition to the Prius line, a wagon version, and even a lithium-ion battery-toting hybrid in Lexus trim.

The current Prius is already excellent, so any improvement will take the green car to unheard-of levels of greatness. We can hardly wait for 2010, when this new Prius will be just one of a whole flock of energy-efficient hybrids and world-changing electric cars.

Reuters, via Ecofriend