Hyundai, Kia Aiming for Solar Roofs Starting in 2019

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Imagine a parked vehicle that slowly sucks dino juice from vast, underground deposits through its tires. That’s essentially what Hyundai Motor Group wants to do with its vehicles, the only difference being the energy source and the direction it’s coming from.

Despite being talked about for years, solar roofs on automobiles haven’t seen widespread adoption. Cost, practicality, and rollover safety concerns mean the largest user of the technology is the Japanese and European-market Toyota Prius Prime. Now, Hyundai wants to go solar in a big way, starting next year.

The automaker wants buyers to know that solar roofs aren’t useless for regular, gas-swilling vehicles, either.

There’s three solar charging systems under development, Hyundai Motor Group claims, targeting electric, hybrid, and ICE Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Obviously, the largest benefit of a roof containing a photovoltaic array is that EV or PHEV vehicles can charge themselves while parked, eliminating some of the need to plug into an electric grid. While the amount of current headed to the car’s battery wouldn’t be large, it would make a difference.

Without mentioning the markets where it plans to offer the technology, Hyundai said the first system — applied to hybrids — will become available in 2019. It didn’t mention models, either, but Hyundai’s Ioniq and Kia’s Niro seem like likely candidates. There’s also the Sonata and Optima to consider.

In a hybrid model, the solar roof can apparently top up a propulsion battery by 30 or 60 percent over the course of a day. Depending on vehicle, the technology might also make it to the hood, boosting the amount charging power. The maximum generation capacity of these systems is 100 watts.

Using a Ioniq Hybrid as an example, a max generation solar array operating under optimal conditions would top up the car’s 1.6 kWh battery to the tune of 50 percent in eight hours, though a smaller, roof-only system would mean less charge. A plug-in hybrid variant would likely need more than a week to fully charge its 8.9 kWh battery. As for the 28 kWh Ioniq Electric, well, you’d best bring that charging cord.

A system designed solely for use with conventional gas-powered cars would utilize a semi-transparent roof and send current to the car’s battery. This would be great in cold climes, assuming the sun peeks above the horizon (or through the clouds), though you’d also want some kind of insulation beneath that roof.

Whether we’ll see this technology in North America remains to be seen. Road safety regulators put the kibosh on the solar-roofed Prius after it was determined the panel would shatter during a rollover. Hyundai says its panels are made of silicon, though its crashworthiness isn’t yet known. That said, if solar isn’t a go, something else might show up to generate a money-saving charge (likely at an additional expense to the buyer).

Jeong-gil Park, the automaker’s engineering chief, said solar panels are not the extent of its electricity-generating tech.

“In the future, we expect to see many different types of electricity-generating technologies integrated into our vehicles,” Park said in a statement. “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.”

[Images: Hyundai]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Chris724 Chris724 on Oct 31, 2018

    The best use for this would be to cool the interior while parked in hot and sunny places. But 100W is not really enough to run a compressor.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Nov 01, 2018

    There is a reason why Tesla does not do it. Battery is gradually discharging when car is sitting in garage if you not drive it that often. But there is no Sun in garage.

  • Redapple2 37% USA Canada content. This should pass you off ! THIRTY SEVEN.
  • Theflyersfan I guess I should have kept my first ever car which was also a 1987 Nissan. Probably could have sold it for $50,000 by now if I was living in this fantasy world where used up 37 year old Nissans sell for the same price as a new Versa. I wish a link was here so all of us can check out this treasure among junk 200SX. The only way this car is even remotely worth that kind of money is if there are illicit substances hidden somewhere in the frame that, as part of the sale, you have to drive across the border and "make a delivery." Otherwise, get that thing off of my lawn.
  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.
  • ToolGuy BIDEN LINKS
  • RHD Questions? None, no, not really. Interested in some random Hyundai? No, not at all. Yawn.
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