Toyota to Add Solar Panels to Prius Hybrids

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to add solar panels to its popular Prius hybrid early next year to power the vehicle's air conditioning, a newspaper report said Monday.

As part of a complete design makeover, the Prius will be fitted with rooftop solar panels on its high-end models, the Nikkei economic daily reported.

"It's more of a symbolic gesture," said the unidentified source. "It's very difficult to power much more than that with solar energy."

Toyota, who declined comment on the report, would be the first major carmaker to use a solar power generation system on a mass-produced vehicle.

The automaker plans to produce 450,000 Priuses in Japan in 2009, up 60 percent from 2007, Nikkei reported.

The Prius, the world's first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, first went on sale in Japan in late 1997. Total global sales have since topped 1 million.