The Hyundai Motor Group is currently developing three different types of solar roof, for cars with hybrid, full electric and internal combustion engine (ICE) powertrains respectively. While solar charging panels have been fitted to vehicles previously, including on the Toyota Prius Plug-in, this is believed to be the first time the technology will be applied to an ICE-only car.
The first type, due to arrive next year, is for hybrids. It's capable of charging 30-60% of the battery during a day, depending on the weather. The vehicle can then use that energy to reduce engine usage, thus increasing fuel economy and cutting CO2 emissions.
The second is designed for ICE-only vehicles and features a semi-transparent solar roof that charges the vehicle's battery. That will be followed by a third system for fully electric vehicles, which will feature solar panels on both the roof and bonnet to maximise energy output.
All three types will use silicon solar panels that can generate up to 100Wh of electricity, which is then fed through a controller to increase efficiency before being sent to a battery.
It hasn't yet been confirmed which Hyundai and Kia vehicles will feature the technology first or when it's likely to become available in the UK.
Jeong-gil Park, Hyundai Motor Group’s engineering boss, said the panels were the first of “many different types of electricity-generating technologies” that would be integrated into the firm’s vehicles.