The Hyundai and Kia Automotive Group is planning to launch solar-powered cars as early as next year as its development of a photovoltaic car that charges its battery with solar light is in the final stage.
The automotive group unveiled its solar technology through its own media channels, HMG Journal and HMG TV, on Oct. 31. It applied its solar system to hybrid cars and internal combustion gasoline engines. The state-of-the-art system receives energy from sun light and can charge not only batteries for hybrid cars but batteries for internal combustion engines and air conditioners. The group is the first carmaker in the world to apply solar cells to an internal combustion gasoline engine.
The group is developing three types of solar cars at the same time. They consist of a first-generation solar roof, a second-generation semitransparent solar roof, and a third-generation car-type lightweight solar lid.
Last year, Toyota launched the Prius Solar, a Prius model with an option for a photovoltaic cell, but its sales were weak due to a lack of design competitiveness. Hyundai and Kia plan to launch solar models after enhancing their fuel efficiency and design.
The model with the first-generation solar roof features a silicon solar cell on its roof. Solar cells are laid out on its sunroof which does not pass sun light. This will be the Hyundai and Kia Automotive Group’s first solar car model and can charge 30% to 60% of batteries per day depending on the environment surrounding it. The model will go on sale after 2019 according to the automotive group’s plan.
The second-generation translucent solar roof is used in a solar car for consumers who want to enjoy openness in cars. Its developers applied a solar cell to the glass part of a transparent panoramic sunroof. A translucent roof panel ensures transparency and enables the car to charge internal batteries for its internal combustion engine or additional solar batteries. The Hyundai and Kia Automotive Group applied solar cells to an internal combustion engine for the first time among carmakers. The automotive group expects its solar system in cars with internal combustion engines to empower cars to better cope with global environmental regulations on cars’ total carbon dioxide emissions, helping the automaker export more cars abroad.
The third-generation lightweight solar lid features solar cells on a vehicle lid (bonnet) and steel plates of the roof, thereby maximizing output. According to this method, if the weight of a solar cell is greatly reduced, more solar cells can be mounted, ramping up output.
"We are putting a spur to development in order to apply the first-generation solar roof to eco-friendly cars to be launched next year," said an official of the automotive group. “Various energy generation technologies, including solar systems, are expected to work with automobiles. The automobile will be no longer energy consuming machines, but function like power generating plants that actively produces energy. The paradigm of vehicle owners is changing from consumer to energy prosumers."