Why hasn't anyone done this before, we wonder...
Recently we reported on Toyota's public testing of a new Prius model using solar panels on the roof to charge the battery. Previously, the Prius PHV did have an option for solar charging, but only while the vehicle was parked. Now though, Hyundai has announced it's launching its first car with a solar roof charging system.
The system makes its debut on the new Sonata Hybrid being sold now in Korea, and will soon follow to the US market. For reasons undisclosed, Hyundai says there are no current plans to sell the car in Europe.
According to Hyundai, the technology will improve fuel efficiency while preventing battery discharge and reducing CO2 emissions. The system can charge the car's batteries while driving, and Hyundai claims the solar roof system can charge 30 to 60 percent of the battery per day. The automaker also says that 6 hours of daily charging will increase the fuel economy of the hybrid by just over 800 miles per year. Currently, the system is only available to support a hybrid drivetrain.
"Solar roof technology is a good example of how Hyundai Motor is moving towards becoming a clean mobility provider," said Hyundai's senior vice president Heui Won Yang.
"The technology allows our customers to actively tackle [the] emissions issue. We are striving to further expand the application of the technology beyond [the] eco-friendly vehicle line up to vehicles with [an] internal combustion engine."
The new Sonata Hybrid also comes with Hyundai's new Active Shift Control controlling the 6-speed automatic transmission designed specifically for hybrids. Over the next few years, the Korean manufacturer plans to roll out the solar roof charging technology to other cars through its lineup. Currently, there's no date or price available for the US launch.