Hyundai has just launched its new Sonata Hybrid car in Korea, sporting a solar roof charging system. It is designed to provide additional electrical power to prevent discharging of the battery should the car be left unused (and outside), as well as increasing fuel efficiency and driving range.
The solar roof system covers the cabin roof in solar cells, plus a controller built into the car that converts the electricity voltage it produces to the one needed by the battery.
Being able to charge even while driving, Hyundai claims that the solar roof system can charge 30 to 60 per cent of the hybrid battery per day, as compared to six hours charging from a standard power point.
Hyundai further claims that the system can increase a drivers’ electric travel distance by an extra 1,300 km annually.
Whilst an interesting development – doing the maths suggests it would only add a maximum of 10% to the range of a full battery electric vehicle doing 13,000 km a year, so a ‘solar car’ needing nothing but the sun on its roof to charge itself it is not!
(Even that number assumes you are parking and driving in the sun. Woe betide you if you expect the panels to do much if you park in a garage, or in the shade, or drive at night).
Every little bit helps though, as we progress towards a carbon emissions free future: so kudos to Hyundai for exploring another avenue of the fossil fuel reduction path.
Whether this model is ever to be sold in Australia is another question: whilst new Sonata has just gone on sale in Korea and will soon be sold in North America, Hyundai currently has no plans to expand sales of this model to the European market.
This means it is unlikely to be produced for right-hand drive markets (like Australia).
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.