Toyota's newest Hybrid will weigh about 60,000 tons, have 328 solar panels and will still burn through about $45,000 of fuel in a day. It's not the 2009 Prius, thank god, it's a new hybrid cargo ship that Toyota plans to ship it's smaller hybrids on. The ship is being built by Nippon Yusen KK and Nippon Oil Corp for their fleet that transports Toyota's cars, and is part of an Nippon's inniative to reduce fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions for marine transport 50% by 2010.
The ship essentially will be a diesel/solar hybrid. The solar panel system will have 328 panels that can generate 40 kilowatts (an average home solar system produces about 3.5 kw). Initially the panels will only power onboard electrical systems which traditionally powered by diesel generators.
Designed to carry up to 6,400 Toyota vehicles, it will receive, approximately, a modest 0.2% of its total energy from the solar panels. They are, however, aiming to bump that up to 2% by 2010. Nippon claims that the system should reduce carbon emissions by 1-2% or approximately 20 tonnes per year. Just to put that in context, that reduction is equal to average emissions of about 4 US households. One problem I have is that it is not clear if that 20 tonnes figure is calculated under the 0.2% or the 2% metric.
The ship should be completed by the end of this year, but aside from leading to bigger and better innovations, the impact is rather small. All in all, this is an interesting concept and I am interested to see what else they plan to do to meet their lofty 2010 goal.