Over the holiday period Greenbang caught the ‘Best of Top Gear’ programme on BBC, which featured crash-tastic presenter Richard Hammond out in Toyota City in Japan test driving the car manufacturers latest prototype vehicle – a single seater scooter/car hybrid that looked just a bit too much like a, err, wheelchair, albeit one that can zoom around at 20mph.
Anyway not content with aiming to unleash those on the general public by 2010 reports on the web claim Toyota is now pinning its future hopes on a – wait for it – solar-powered car. Greenbang had to check its calendar to make sure it was 1 January and not 1 April.
Every man and his blog has picked up on the story, which seems to have originated from an article in Japanese newspaper the Nikkei, reported here by Associated Press. But it’s not an entirely new story, with Toyota talking about a solar-powered Prius last summer.
Greenbang’s first reaction is that you’d need a roof the size of a small town on top of your car to run it purely on solar power and that’s presuming there’s enough sunlight in the first place. There are also still big question marks over the efficiency and return on investment on solar technology that need to be addressed by the industry.
However, it’s not completely pie in the sky and Toyota along with a number of other car manufacturers are already offering or trialling the use of add-on solar cells to improve the energy efficiency of some models of cars. Some would even say Toyota’s a bit late to the table with its solar powered vehicle plans.
No more details from Toyota yet on this story but Greenbang’s putting it down to the usual slow news period over Christmas and New Year. Expect this one to run and run throughout this year though.