New panels will boost electric-only plug-in range by 10 per cent, car-maker claims. And will migrate to other models.

Toyota has announced a solar panelled roof option will soon be available on its current plug-in version of the Prius hatch that in some markets is known as the Prius Prime.

Charging the car when parked, the new option boosts the electric-only range by at least 10 per cent in normal conditions, Toyota claims. This meanis the new plug-in should be capable of around 55km on pure-electric power at speeds of up to 135km/h.

As well as increasing the range, the roof panels also power the lamps, windows and air conditioning when the car is running, reducing fuel consumption even when not running on pure-electric power.

Initially, the new option will be offered on cars sold in Europe and Japan but not Australia following Toyota Australia’s decision not to import plug-in variants.

The US market will also be denied the technology as the reinforced glass solar panels don’t meet America’s stringent rollover crash tests. Toyota says it’s now working on a US crash-test solution.

Solar roof panels will also soon feature on other Toyota hybrid vehicles, says the car-maker, once the initial high costs of production have been reduced.

Other car-makers, including Audi, has offered solar powered features in its vehicles in the past but not, claims Toyota, to the extent of the new Prius.

Previous A8s, for example, used panels embedded in the sunroof to power the air conditioning in hot weather when the vehicle was at rest.

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