South Korean carmakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are going one better than creating an EV charging network powered by solar energy – they want their cars to capture their own energy, via solar roof technology – and as soon as next year.
There will be three types of solar cells applied to vehicles made by the South Korean carmakers, the first which could recharge a car’s battery by up to 30 to 60 per cent each day, potentially adding range without a stop at a charging station.
A second-gen semi-transparent system is also being launched, that would act as a “sun roof” – in more ways than one – and also a third-gen version that can be applied to the car bodies.
The plans announced this week will see the solar charging technology introduced into certain models – and not just for the obvious recipients, electric vehicles.
The solar panels would be compatible with not only hybrid and electric vehicles but also pure internal combustion cars, Hyundai stated in a press release.
Developed to support increased energy needs of autonomous technology, the solar charging technology would also assist in reducing CO2 emissions associated with EV chargers using electricity from a grid dominated by coal (such as Australia’s).
Jeong-Gil Park, executive vice president of engineering design at Hyundai says the technology will elevate the role of the EV driver from just another consumer of centrally generated power.
“This will enable them to develop from a passive device that consumes energy to a solution that actively generates energy. The paradigm of the vehicle owner will shift from that of a consumer to an energy prosumer,” Park said in a statement.
Although Hyundai Australia could not comment on a timeline for availability in Australia, a spokesperson said that the technology will become increasingly relevant as light vehicle emissions regulations are developed.
“[It’s a] great feature and will obviously work well in Australia given our abundance of sunlight!”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.