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Hyundai Launches First Vehicle With Charging On Sun Roof

The Hyundai sunroof system comprises a structure of silicon solar panels mounted on the roof of the car. The company says the system can charge the vehicle’s electrical system while parking or driving. (Hyundai Engine)

The Hyundai Motor Group in South Korea has launched its first vehicle with a solar or charging system on the roof.

Other car manufacturers are also developing solar charging systems as a way to power electric cars and to increase the driving distance between charges.

In an announcement last week, Hyundai said the system is available on the new Sonata Hybrid model, which is currently for sale in South Korea. A hybrid is a vehicle that can be powered by both electricity and liquid fuel, such as gasoline.

The Sonata Hybrid has a structure of solar panels that are built into the top of the car. The system captures energy from the sun to help recharge the vehicle’s battery. Charging can take place when the car is parked or when the user is driving it.

Majority of the energy captured by the panels is converted by a controller into electricity that can be stored in the battery.

Researchers from Hyundai Motor Group study charging technology for sunroofs installed in the automaker’s latest Sonata Hybrid model. (Hyundai Engine)
Researchers from Hyundai Motor Group study charging technology for sunroofs installed in the automaker’s latest Sonata Hybrid model. (Hyundai Engine)

The Hyundai company says the technology can capture enough solar energy to charge 30 to 60 percent of the vehicle’s battery. The company estimates that with six hours of daily charging, the system can increase the annual travel distance of a driver by 1,300 kilometers.

Other electric and hybrid vehicles must be connected to power points for charging. Charging times vary greatly depending on the vehicle and the type of electrical equipment used. Manufacturers have long sought to increase the distance that a car can drive before the battery needs to be charged.

Hyundai said in its announcement that the next market for the Sonata solar-powered model will be North America, where the vehicle will be available ‘soon’.

Another automaker that has been developing solar charging technology for several years is the Toyota of Japan. Last month the company announced that it had launched road testing of vehicles with solar panels. The panels were attached to the roof and other parts of Toyota’s Prius PHV model for the tests, which will take place on the streets of Tokyo.

The company Toyota Motor Corporation is currently using a Prius PHV demonstration model equipped with a solar battery panel to test the technology for future development activities. They are currently using a Prius PHV demonstration model equipped with a solar battery panel to test the technology for future development activities. (Toyota Motor Corporation)

Toyota says the system being tested is designed to charge the vehicle’s battery regardless of whether the car is parked or driving. Information collected during the tests will be used to develop a new solar charging system, the company said in a statement.

Toyota said the purpose of its development and testing is to help create “a new market for solar panels.” Such a market can be an important step to solve the world’s energy and environmental problems, the company added.

The US-based Karma Automotive gave its Revero model a roof with solar panels. The company says vehicle owners can expect to run 800 to 1600 kilometers per year on solar energy.

In Europe, two starting car manufacturers have plans to sell solar-powered vehicles.

Sono Motors, based in Germany, says its solar-powered electric Sion model could drive an additional 34 kilometers each day due to the sun’s power. The company plans to start production in Sweden next year. It says that at least 10,000 people have reserved to get a Sion, the company’s website says it sells for around $ 28,600.

In the Netherlands, a company named Lightyear says it plans to produce its Lightyear One model by 2021. The company describes its electric vehicle with solar charging options as “the first long-distance solar car today.”

Solar panels are included on the roof and the hood of the vehicle. Lightyear says that car drivers can run up to 20,000 kilometers per year on solar energy, depending on climatic conditions. This Lightyear One currently has a reservation price of $ 134,000.

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