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Hyundai to launch solar-powered cars next year

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

1 Nov 2018 • 2 min read

The Hyundai Group will roll-out solar powered cars as early as next year, with a plan to produce special roof and bonnet panels for Hyundai and Kia product from 2019.

In what Hyundai is describing as the "world’s first solar-charging technology for internal combustion engine vehicles", the solar panels will be able to be used to support its full range of powertrains, including ICE, hybrid and EV vehicles.

The technology is incredibly clever, with a semi-transparent solar panel paired with a controller and a battery. It then works in much the same way as a conventional panel, absorbing light from the sun and transforming it into electricity.

“In the future, we expect to see many different types of electricity-generating technologies integrated into our vehicles. The solar roof is the first of these technologies, and will mean that automobiles no longer passively consume energy, but will begin to produce it actively,” said Hyundai's executive vice president of engineering and design, Jeong-Gil Park.

“It is an exciting development for us, designing a technology for vehicle owners to help them shift from being energy users to being energy producers.”

Hyundai says its 100W solar panel can produce up to 100Wh of energy in "ideal conditions" (like on a summer day, for example, of which there are many in Australia). That power is then fed to the battery, where it can be used to feed the car's AC generator.

Hyundai is rolling out here generations of the technology, with the first to be fitted to the roofs of its hybrid models, and capable of recharging up to 60 per cent of the battery's capacity in a single day.

The next-gen roll out will be applied to tractional internal combustion vehicles, and it's here where Hyundai is claiming a word first. The panels will form a part of the sunroof, so the on-board battery can be recharged while light still enters the cabin.

Finally, the third-generation technology will be integrated into both the hood and roof of the brand's full EVs, feeding the on-board batteries for extra range.

Are solar-powered cars the future? Tell us in the comments below.