Hyundai, Kia Motors to develop solar roof charging tech for cars

The solar panels could help to reduce emissions and boost range. Source: Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors have announced plans to introduce “solar roof” charging technology on selected Hyundai Motor Group vehicles to help meet global regulations targets and improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the Hyundai Motor Group said that electricity generating solar panels would be incorporated onto either the roof or hood of vehicles, with the first generation of the technology expected in 2019.

The companies are launching three solar charging systems to supplement hybrid, internal combustion and battery electric vehicles.

The first-generation system, which is set to be launched from 2019, is being developed for hybrid vehicles. The second-generation system is for internal combustion engine vehicles and will feature a semi-transparent solar roof.

Hyundai said the third-generation system was undergoing testing. The idea is for it to be added to the hood and roof of battery electric vehicles.

“In the future, we expect to see many different types of electricity-generating technologies integrated into our vehicles,” Jeong-Gil Park, the Hyundai Motor Group’s executive vice president of its Engineering and Design Division, said in a statement Wednesday.

“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,” Park added.

The solar charging technology is being developed to support the vehicle’s main power source, improving mileage and reducing CO2 emissions. The system will have the capability to charge the batteries of eco-friendly electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as those of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, helping to improve fuel efficiency.

The solar charging system is composed of a solar panel, a controller and a battery. As the panel absorbs photons of light from the sun, it creates electron-hole pairs in silicon cells, enabling current to flow and generating electricity.