Toyota secretly developing total solar energy powered car

Japanese carmaker Toyota is said to be using technology to develop an innovative environmental vehicle in its quest to dominate alternate-fuel vehicles. According to the Nikkei business daily, Japan's top car maker is developing a futuristic ecological car that will use solar energy to recharge electric vehicles.

The report said Toyota is experimenting with a version of an electric vehicle that will get some of its power from solar cells installed on the roof of the vehicle and can also be recharged by electricity generated from solar panels on roofs of homes.

In July, 2008 Toyota was planning to install a solar power system on its Prius hybrid car. The redesigned Prius would have solar panels on the roof, to supply some of the two to five kilowatts needed to power the air-conditioning unit, Nikkei had reported. (See: Toyota plans to make the Prius greener with solar panels in 2009)

Also the leader in green vehicles and maker of the Prius, Toyota, which is associated with luxury car Lexus and Camry sedan, has already started using solar panels at its Tsutsumi plant, in Japan to generate its own electricity.

According to Toyota, 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. This process reduces 740 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in a year and is equal to using 1,500 barrels of crude oil.

Toyota in the long run plans to develop a model totally powered by solar cells on the vehicle, which may take it a number of years to develop the final version, said the Nikkei newspaper.