Hyundai, Kia Aiming for Solar Roofs Starting in 2019

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
hyundai kia aiming for solar roofs starting in 2019

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]

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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.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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