The Toyota Prius pictured above features a shade of green that is probably the last color you’d want adorning the Japanese manufacturer’s popular hybrid, but it actually serves a special purpose. The new color option uses science and technology to help drivers conserve electricity by reducing how much heat the car absorbs from the sun. Dubbed “Thermo-Tect Lime Green,” the color is the first use of solar reflective paint in a production vehicle.
Most car paint is known to contain carbon black particles, something that absorbs a lot of heat from the sun. Toyota says that Thermo-Tect Lime Green doesn’t contain carbon black, but instead has titanium oxide, which is much more reflective. Unfortunately there’s no real reason that the paint has to be a hideous green.
With the car’s paint absorbing less heat, the interior of the vehicle doesn’t get as hot, which in turn means drivers don’t need to use as much air conditioning. This, of course, helps conserve the Prius’ battery, as well as improves fuel economy.
One would think just getting the car in white would be just as reflective, but Toyota says that in a two-hour outdoors test in the summer, its special lime green was still better than white at reflecting heat.
It’s not clear why Toyota chose bright green as the first color to debut its solar reflective paint, but in theory the automaker could make the technology available in other colors, allowing customers to have a choice. As of now the Thermo-Tect Lime Green is only available in Japan as a 43,200 yen ($380) option on the 2017 Prius.