Hyundai Releases First Car With Solar Roof Charging System – And It’s Coming Here Soon
Technology in cars has come a long way over the years. Henry Ford might not even recognize something like a self-driving Tesla. But what we recently see from Hyundai is a little different than self-driving technology. They have released a version of their Sonata that has solar panels covering its roof. Hyundai claims the solar panels can charge between 30 and 60% of the car’s battery. Hyundai has said that this could give another 1,300 kilometers per year in terms of distance traveled. Though these solar panels are currently on the hybrid car, Hyundai sees the potential for this technology to apply towards their electric models. The 2020 version of the Sonata is presently only on the Korean market, but it will soon be available in the North American market as well. (1)
Has This Been Done Before?
Hyundai is not the first company to do something like this. Toyota also has a solar-powered system on a version of its Prius. The Karma Revero is another vehicle with this option. There is also a Dutch company called Lightyear that is currently working on an electric car with solar panels. The downside? Lightyear will cost over $170,000. Hybrid vehicles were designed to increase fuel savings for customers and released in 1997. Although hybrid vehicles have been out for a number of years, the solar panels on them are still considered relatively new technology. (2)
What Are The Specifics?
Like most solar-powered devices, photons hit the panel’s surface, and the roof of the car converts them by using light from the sun. Electricity is formed by the creation of electron-hole pairs in silicon cells and stored in the battery. Hyundai is already one step ahead of the game and working on another solar roof that will be semi-transparent. (3) Heui Won Yang, the senior vice president of Hyundai Motor Group stated, “Solar roof technology is a good example of how Hyundai Motors is moving towards becoming a clean mobility provider. The technology allows our customers to actively tackle the emissions issue. We are striving to further expand the application of the technology beyond eco-friendly vehicle lineup to vehicles with internal combustion engine.” (4) At 150 horsepower from the gas engine and another 52 horsepower from the electric engine, this is a fair amount of torque for a mid-size vehicle.
It is apparent that vehicle manufacturers like Hyundai are not only focused on technologically advanced cars but also environmentally friendly ones. If this technology is correctly implemented, it may be safe to assume that other technology sectors will use this sort of power as well. Various aircraft have already gotten on board with solar power. Just as cellular phones took over for landlines, it appears that gas vehicles may one day become a thing of the past. The shift towards electric vehicles has been active for quite some time now. Prices on electric cars have drastically reduced since they were first created. And now solar-powered hybrid cars are gaining in popularity as well. If vehicle technology has advanced as much as it has in the past 30 years, it begs the question, what will it look like in another 30?
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