If you ever wanted a solar panel on the roof of your car, the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has you covered.
However, it’s not for powering the car directly, as fantastic as that would be.
Instead, the system recharges the hybrid’s batteries to increase travel distance while preventing unnecessary battery discharge, Hyundai said.
It provides the car with additional power and increases fuel efficiency too.
How does Hyundai’s solar panel system work?
Hyundai’s solar panel has a structure of silicon solar panels mounted on the Sonata Hybrid’s roof.
With six hours of daily charging, it can charge the batteries to between 30 to 60 per cent of their capacity even on the move, Hyundai said.
The system is claimed to add an expected 1300km of travel distance every year just by using the power of the sun.
For the more technical-minded, the system comprises a solar panel and a controller.
When sunlight hits the solar (or photovoltaic) panel, electricity is produced via the creation of electron-hole pairs in silicon cells, which then produces electricity.
That electricity is converted to the standard voltage by the controller and then stored in the battery.
During development, Hyundai claims it took not only efficiency but also design into account.
The future of solar tech in cars
The solar panel, or “solar roof technology” is a “good example” of Hyundai move towards becoming a clean mobility provider, said Hyundai senior vice-president and head of Body Tech Unit Heui Won Yang.
The technology lets customers “actively tackle” emissions, he said.
Aside from its application in hybrid cars, Hyundai is also looking to expand this technology to other internal-combustion engine cars.
The new Sonata Hybrid is equipped with other new technologies like Active Shift Control (ASC) technology.
It also gets a Smartstream G2.0 GDi HEV engine and 6-speed hybrid transmission.
Similar to BMW, the Sonata Hybrid also supports a ‘Digital Key’ function via a dedicated smartphone app.
There’s a narrow likelihood of the Sonata Hybrid coming to Singapore, but we’ll update you if we hear otherwise!