Toyota’s new Prius plug in hybrid might be eco-friendly, but apparently it’s not safety-friendly — at least, not enough for American roadways.
The next-generation Prius plug-in, called the Prius PHV, comes complete with a roof topped with solar panels that recharge the onboard batteries with the sun’s rays. Or it does in Japan and Europe, anyway.
In the American market, Toyota has had to remove the solar panels on its latest green machine. Its reinforced-glass panels don’t pass America’s strict rollover crash tests.
Toyota doesn't have the technology to create solar panels resilient enough to meet U.S. standards. At least, not yet.
Koji Toyoshima, chief engineer of the Prius plug-in, told Automotive News that the carmaker hopes to remedy this within the lifespan of the current Prius — which is to say, within the next five years.
Toyoshima points out that a lot of recharging could happen without any plug at all, in areas like California and Arizona that see a lot of sunlight.
Until Toyota figures out how to make stronger solar panels, plug-in hybrid owners that want to charge their car off the sun will have to buy solar panels for their home.