Korea’s Hyundai Motor is launching its new Sonata Hybrid with a solar roof charging system that will provide the vehicle with additional electrical power, as well as increase fuel efficiency and driving range. The automaker says the new vehicle is on sale in Korea and will be available soon in North America.
In the coming years, Hyundai says it will roll out the technology to other vehicles across its product line.
“Solar roof technology is a good example of how Hyundai Motor is moving towards becoming a clean mobility provider,” says Heui Won Yang, senior vice president and head of Hyundai Motor Group’s Body Tech Unit. “The technology allows our customers to actively tackle the emissions issue. We are striving to further expand the application of the technology beyond eco-friendly vehicle line up to vehicles with internal combustion engine.”
The solar roof system includes a structure of silicon solar panels that are mounted on the car’s roof. The solar roof system can charge 30 to 60 percent of the battery per day. With six hours of daily charging, it is expected to increase drivers’ travel distance by an extra 869 miles annually.
The system is composed of a solar panel and a controller. Electricity is produced when solar energy activates the solar panel’s surface, which converts the energy by using photons of light from the sun. This creates the electron-hole pairs in silicon cells, which generate solar electricity.
The electricity from this process is converted to the standard voltage by the controller before being stored in the battery. While the solar roof system currently plays a supporting role, the automaker says it opens up possibilities for vehicles to no longer need fossil fuel to operate.