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Kia adds solar sunroof to charge battery buggies on the move

  • Solar to power future production vehicles – even ICE
  • Target is battery charging while on the move
  • Whole new meaning to the ‘sunroof’ concept
KIA AND HYUNDAI GO SOLAR. Image: Hyundai Motors
KIA AND HYUNDAI GO SOLAR. That’s not just a sunroof, its a charging system for hybrid and battery cars from Kia and Hyundai.  Image: Hyundai Motors

SEOUL, South Korea – Kia Motors and Hyundai Motor, partners in the automotive business, have announced plans to introduce solar roof charging technology on some of the group’s vehicles.

The electricity-generating solar panels will be incorporated into the roof or bonnet of the first solar-aided vehicles to support internal combustion, hybrid and battery vehicles with supplemental electrical power to reduce fuel-consumption and so increase the vehicles’range.

The technology is intended to support the vehicles’ main power source by charging drive batteries on the move. The panels will charge the batteries of eco-friendly electric and hybrid vehicles AND those of conventional petrol/diesel combustion engines.

KIA AND HYUNDAI GO SOLAR. Image: Hyundai Motors
KIA AND HYUNDAI GO SOLAR. Image: Hyundai Motors

Three types of panel are being developed, the automaker says: the first generation for hybrids, the second a semi-transparent array for ICE vehicles.

Eventually, the third generation will bring lighter arrays for pure battery cars.

END OF HIGH-RISE PARKING?

The first-generation system will have silicon panels in a normal car roof and capable of charging as much as 60% of the battery during the day, depending on sunlight and other environmental factors.

(Sounds like underground and tower parking will become seriously unpopular in a decade or so! – Editor)

The second, a semi-transparent solar roof, will also be applied to ICE vehicles, a world-first for the technology that can be integrated with a sunroof, brightening the cabin while charging the battery pack.

READ MORE Hyundai features on Carman’s Corner

The third generation, still being tested, will be applied to the bonnet and roof of eco-friendly battery vehicles. The system uses a solar panel, a controller, and a battery. As the panel absorbs photons from the sun it affects silicon cells, enabling current to flow and generating electricity.

This next for the well-informed…

SHARING THE LOAD

When a 100W solar panel is so equipped it can produce as much as 100Wh (in ideal conditions: summer noon, 1000W/m2 intensity of radiation). The controller has Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT), to control control voltage and current to increase the efficiency of electricity harvested by the solar panel.

This power is converted and stored in the battery or used to decrease load on the vehicle’s alternating current (AC) generator and so increase vehicle range.

READ MORE Kia features on Carman’s Corner

Jeong-Gil Park of the Engineering and Design Division of Hyundai Motor Group told The Corner in a media release: “We expect to see many types of electricity-generating technologies in our vehicles. The solar roof is the first – automobiles will no longer passively consume energy, but will begin to produce it actively.

”It’s an exciting development for us, designing a technology for vehicle owners to help them shift from being energy users to energy producers.”

The group hopes to launch the first generation of the technology in the 2020’s to help meet global regulations and improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

KIA AND HYUNDAI GO SOLAR. Image: Hyundai Motors
KIA AND HYUNDAI GO SOLAR. Image: Hyundai Motors

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