London, July 8 : Automaker Toyota reportedly has plans to install solar panels in its Prius hybrid cars so as to power on-board electrical items like the air-conditioning system.
Sources have revealed that the company is expected to launch the third generation model of the car, which can be driven by its petrol engine, its electric motor or both, next year.
There, however, is no report as to the number of cars to be installed with the solar panels, and their costing.
Toyota has set the target of selling at leas one million hybrid cars a year in the early part of the next decade, by offering the fuel-saving system on more vehicles.
However, sources have revealed that independent tests on Prius cars have shown that they could travel not more than 15 kilometres a day on solar power alone.
According to them, rising silicon prices will make solar panels costly, and that it is difficult to store energy with the help of such panels.
"It's more of a symbolic gesture. It's very difficult to power much more than that with solar energy," New Scientist magazine quoted a source, who asked not to be identified, as saying.
A Toyota spokesman declined to comment, saying the company does not talk about future product plans.