Solar panels will soon be joining the options list for Hyundai and Kia cars.

Hyundai Motor Group, the South Korean car maker that owns Kia, has revealed its future plans to make all types of vehicles more energy efficient.

Detailing its first three-generations of solar-generating systems, the products will be used on hybrid, battery-electric and conventional combustion engine vehicles soon.

The first-gen product, a traditional silicon solar-type panel mounted to the roof, will be available on "selected hyrbid Hyundai Motor Group vehicles” after 2019, “to help meet global regulations targets and improve vehicle fuel efficiency.” Candidates in line to get the technology include hybrid versions of the Hyundai Ioniq and Sonata and the Kia Optima, Soul and Niro.

The system includes the solar panel, an energy generator controller and battery. Hyundai says the first-gen system has the potential to recharge 30 to 60 per cent of a hybrid-size battery in one day of sunlight, depending on the season and thus amount of light available throughout the day.

The second-generation system aims to appease lovers of both the sunroof and solar power by using translucent solar cells infused into the glass of a panoramic sunroof. Generating less energy than a conventional opaque solar panel, the second-generation system will be equipped to ordinary combustion engine cars to keep high-consumption devices such as the air-con and electric systems running with improved fuel efficiency.

Finally, the third-generation of solar system will add solar cells on to the bonnet and boot to create an eco-friendly vehicle, though the car maker is still studying the structural implications of the new look, such as crash impact safety.

With the potential of making the first-gen solar system available as soon as next year, Hyundai is getting in early to adopt technology that it says will become prevalent as the focus on environmental impact and energy requirements for cars come under the light.

“In the future, various types of electricity generating technologies, including the solar charging system, will be connected to vehicles. This will enable them to develop from a passive device that consumes energy to a solution that actively generates energy,” said Hyundai Group executive vice president of engineering design division, Jeong-Gil Park.

“The paradigm of the vehicle owner will shift from that of a consumer to an energy prosumer.”

Source: Drive

November 1, 2018