Something has been bothering me about the 2010 Prius. I like the car. I like the looks and the advanced electronics in the dashboard and head unit. I like the roof that collects solar energy for the air conditioning. I like the…(play sound of needle scratching across the surface of a phonographic record) SOLAR POWERED AIR CONDITIONING?! Hey! isn’t that something that the Aptera had first? Yes, I do believe it is! Unless I am missing something here, I think it may be possible that Toyota may have taken a page out of the Aptera playbook.  Can they do that? Is that fair? Part of me thinks it isn’t fair. Yet, another part of me thinks I need to keep my cool and do a search for prior art on this subject before I make rash statements or worse yet get arrested for going to the next North American Auto Show in Detroit and creating a scene by testing to see if the Prius solar collector can operate from under a 500 pound pile of horse manure. Solar power isn’t a new idea. Powering air conditioning (in your home) isn’t a new idea. Powering a car with solar power is not new. So is it a huge leap to put a solar power collector on the roof of a car to power a portion of the car? In my mind, not really. However, I am about fairness. I think it would be nice if the people at Toyota acknowledged all of the people that did the pioneering work that made their new Prius possible. The Aptera was not the first car I ever saw with a solar panel, but I feel it was the first truly viable car that didn’t look stupid because of the panel.  In saying this I can’t say I am angry at Toyota but I am concerned that they may get credit for this innovative idea because they were the first to make it available on a grand scale. So rather than get mad and spread my own special brand of hate, I will respond to those who ask, “Have you seen the solar panel on the new Prius?” with a mildly smarmy response, Yes, but the Aptera had one first.  (Insert video of me drinking a vodka martini while looking blankly at nothing to my upper right).

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