Hyundai is launching its first car with a solar rooftop as part of the vehicle's charging system. The solar panels in the new Sonata Hybrid's roof are expected to provide up to 60 percent of the car's battery charging per day and provide over a 1,000 km of EV range per year.
The solar panels are semi-transparent and were introduced as a concept at the 2018 SEMA show. Hyundai plans to add the panels to several existing models over the next several years with the Sonata Hybrid as the first. The technology should evolve to include other top surfaces of the car as well, Hyundai says.
"We are striving to further expand the application of the technology beyond [our] eco-friendly vehicle line up to vehicles with internal combustion engine[s]," says Huei Won Yang, Senior VP and Head of Body Tech Unit at Hyundai.
Hyundai's system involves a rooftop embedded with silicon solar panels that can gather the Sun's energy as the vehicle drives or while parked. The automaker says if left outside for six hours, the solar panels can gather enough energy to fill the Sonata Hybrid's batteries 30 to 60 percent, adding an average of 1,300 km (808 mi) of emissions-free driving annually. The solar panel rooftop is meant to be a supporter of the Sonata Hybrid's driving energy needs, not its sole source of power.
The new Sonata Hybrid is available with the solar panel rooftop in Korea and will soon be available in North America as well. It is not slated for European sales as yet.
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