Why you can’t order a Toyota Prius with a roof-mounted solar panel

Toyota Prius Prime
In Japan, the plug-in hybrid version of the new Toyota Prius will be available with a large solar panel built into the roof when it goes on sale in the fall. Buyers in Europe will also be able to order the panel, but don’t look for it on the list of options if you live in the United States.

That’s because the solar panel is installed on reinforced glass sheeting that shatters in the event of a rollover. That’s acceptable in Europe and in Japan, but the setup doesn’t comply with safety regulations in the U.S. Toyota still hasn’t found a way around the issue.

Where there’s a will, however, there should be a way, and the Japanese firm is committed to offering its greenest model with a built-in solar panel in the not-too-distant future.

Toyota Prius plug-in solar panel

“We would like to introduce this, at least in the lifetime of the current model. It should be possible to do a lot of charging this way in places like California or Arizona,” said Koji Toyoshima, the chief engineer of the Prius and the Prius plug-in hybrid, in a recent interview with Automotive News.

The solar panel stretches nearly the entire length of the roof. When the Prius is parked, the electricity generated by the panel is sent directly to the battery pack. When it’s running, the electricity is used to power accessories such as the A/C, the lights, and the power windows. Toyota promises that adding a solar panel to the Prius makes it about 10-percent more efficient, though more specific figures haven’t been announced yet.

Read more: How this man got a new Tundra for free from Toyota

Toyota engineers are busily developing a way to offer the solar panel on our shores. We don’t know when it will arrive yet, but it’s safe to assume that it will be available as an extra-cost option.

Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.
Cars

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.
Computing

Don’t expect to see the new Dell XPS 15 with OLED display until April

There could be a delay in the release of Dell's new laptops with OLED panels. A new tweet from Dell executive Frank Azor suggests that these new devices might not come until a month later.
Smart Home

The best oven ranges, whether you’re a chef or just need to heat up a pizza

Finding an oven that is right for you is hard. Whether you're a novice looking for an entry-level gas oven or a master chef looking to upgrade to the best, here are some of the best oven ranges available now.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.