Avoid petrol stations ... just top up with the sun
HYUNDAI and Kia are planning to introduce solar roofs on some models. The new tech will help owners rely less on increasingly expensive fuel.
The car making siblings are set to implement the solar technology in hybrid, fully electric and internal combustion vehicles.
The first generation tech will be used in hybrids, weaving silicon solar panels into the car's roof. Hyundai believes the solar panels can charge the batteries by between 30 and 60 per cent capacity on a normal day.
Second-generation tech will be installed on internal combustion vehicles. Hyundai plans to integrate a semi-transparent solar roof with a panoramic sunroof to let light into the cabin while also potentially powering the car's electronics and climate controls.
The brands are testing the third-gen technology for fully electric cars, with solar panels applied to the roof and bonnet of the vehicle to maximise the battery power and range.
Hyundai engineering and design chief Jeong-Gil Park says this is just the start of energy generating technology to be applied to vehicles in coming years.
"In the future, we expect to see many different types of electricity-generating technologies integrated into our vehicles," Park says.
"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.
"It is an exciting development for us, designing a technology for vehicle owners to help them shift from being energy users to being energy producers."
Hyundai Australia spokesman Bill Thomas believes the technology is a perfect fit for Australia.
"Adopting brilliant new technology like this in Australia obviously makes a lot of sense given our abundance of sunlight," says Thomas.
"Harnessing natural and renewable energy will become increasingly important for Australia's transport networks as we move toward more stringent vehicle emissions regulations in the future. Hyundai will continue to be a leader in eco vehicles."
Hyundai plans to implement the technology on its vehicles from 2020.
However, this is no the first time that a solar powered car has been floated. Earlier this year German start-up Sono Motors revealed its Sion EV covered with 330 solar panels. The electric vehicle maker claimed its panels could add more than 10 per cent to car's driving range. The EV is planned to go on sale in Europe next year but is unlikely to make it to Australia.