Kia and Hyundai have announced exciting plans to introduce ‘solar roof’ charging technology on selected vehicles.

Electricity-generating solar panels will be incorporated into the roof or the bonnet of vehicles, and will support internal combustion, hybrid and battery electric vehicles with additional electrical power, increasing fuel efficiency and range.

The solar charging technology is being developed to support the vehicle’s main power source, improving mileage and reducing CO2 emissions.

The system will have the capability to charge the batteries of eco-friendly electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as those of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, helping to improve fuel efficiency.

sunroofs to become solar panels - Kia and Hyundai reveal solar charging system technology to power future eco friendly vehicles 3 - Sunroofs to become solar panels

Three types of solar roof charging systems are being developed:

  • The first-generation system, which will be applied to hybrid models, is created out of a structure of silicon solar panels that are integrated into a standard car roof. This system is capable of charging 30 to 60 per cent of the battery over the course of a normal day, depending on weather conditions and other environmental factors.
  • The second-generation semi-transparent solar roof will be applied to ICE vehicles, representing a world-first application for the technology. The semi-transparent technologies can be integrated with a panoramic sunroof, letting light through into the cabin, while charging the vehicle’s battery at the same time. Applying solar charging systems to ICE vehicles will help them comply with ever more stringent global environmental laws regulating CO2 emissions.
  • The third-generation system, is currently in testing. It is designed to be applied to the bonnet and roof of eco-friendly battery electric vehicle models in order to maximise energy output.

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.