Toyota to add solar panels to Prius hybrid: Nikkei

A Prius with the new Hybrid engine is seen at the fair stand of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota at the international car show IAA in Frankfurt September 11, 2007. REUTERS/Alex Grimm

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T plans to install solar panels on its next-generation Prius hybrid cars, becoming the first major automaker to use solar power for a vehicle, the Nikkei business daily reported on Monday.

The paper said Toyota would equip solar panels on the roof of the high-end version of the Prius when it redesigns the gasoline-electric hybrid car early next year, and the power generated by the system would be used for the air conditioning.

Toyota plans to use solar panels made by Kyocera Corp 6971.T, the Nikkei said.

A Toyota spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the report.

The Prius, the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, first went on sale in Japan in late 1997 and in other markets in 2000, and its cumulative sales have topped 1 million units worldwide.

Toyota remodeled the Prius with an improved hybrid system in 2003 and is expected to launch a third-generation version by next year.

Reporting by Sachi Izumi; Editing by Chris Gallagher