The Korean duo’s parent company Hyundai Motor Group is developing three types of solar roof charging systems, including its first-generation silicon solar roof system; the second-generation semi-transparent solar roof system, and the third-generation lightweight “solar-lid” on the vehicle’s body.
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The first-generation solar roof system, set for launch next year, will be applied to hybrid models and includes mass-produced silicon solar panels mounted on an ordinary roof.
This system can generate up to a 60-percent battery charge per day, depending on weather conditions and the environment.
The second-generation solar setup uses semi-transparent solar cells applied to a panoramic sunroof. In a world first, it will be applied to conventionally-powered vehicles to provide natural light, and power electrical systems such as air-conditioning to take load off the engine and thus boost overall efficiency. The solar cells will charge the car’s battery, or a second battery that’s separate to the car’s ignition system.
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According to the Hyundai group, applying solar charging systems to internal combustion engine vehicles will help combustion engines continue to adhere to increasingly stringent emissions laws.
The third-generation lightweight solar-lid system will include a structure that discreetly incorporates solar cells with the car’s panels.
Solar panels have been used on cars since the 1990s, when the Mazda 929 used a roof-mounted cell to run fans to help keep the cabin cool while the car was parked. The Nissan Leaf integrated photovoltaic cells in a similar way.
And in some overseas markets you can buy a Toyota Prius with a roof-spanning solar array, which partly charged the batteries while the car is parked. However, it’s only available on the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, a variant that is not set to come to Australia.
Audi is also developing the use of solar panels for its future e-tron EV range.