Hyundai releases solar panel car to help recharge its battery

  • Hyundai has released a version of its Sonata hybrid car equipped with solar panels that it claims could provide the battery with up to 60% of its power.

    Silicon panels line the new Sonata hybrid's roof, which the South Korean firm says could charge between 30-60% of the car’s overall battery. Combined with six hours of daily charging, it is expected to increase drivers’ travel distance by an extra 1,300km (800 miles) annually.

    Hyundai have stated that harvesting solar energy through fitted hybrid panels will boost fuel efficiency, thus cutting down on fuel costs. It will also lower carbon dioxide emissions, and noise pollution, as these cars tend to be quieter than vehicles powered by conventional fuels.

    Hyundai is also planning on offering the roof as an optional extra for some of their other models, but the new model is not without its disadvantages. “Solar cells add cost and weight to cars, and it’s unclear how effective they can be in the real world,” said automotive journalist Stephen Edelstein, writing on the Digital Trends news site.

    Solar cars tend to be costly as the batteries are very expensive and need to be changed/replaced often, and they are also frequently criticised for their poor practicality.

    This could be a factor as to why the UK sales of low emission vehicles, including hybrids, fell for the first time in two years. This is according to figures released in July 2019 from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive blamed confusing policies and “premature” removal of subsidies for such hybrids, as factors in the drop of sales.

    No official price for this hybrid passenger car has been revealed yet, but it is only for sale in Korea and North America; Hyundai said it had no plans to sell it in other regions.

    Hyundai is not the first car manufacturer to use solar panels on a vehicle. They are also available on the Toyota Prius, the luxury Karma Revero, and the Dutch start-up company Lightyear is currently working on on an electric car that uses solar panels on its bonnet and roof to help charge the vehicle's batteries. The Lightyear One car is expected to cost about €149,000 (£137,000) when it goes on sale in 2021.

    In addition to this ever-growing solar panel technology, scientists are currently developing a new type of window glass that is effectively a transparent solar panel, which they say could be used to charge mobile phones, electric cars and power homes. A working model of the glass has been created to show the viability of the process, but it now needs to be refined, made more efficient and brought to market.

    Source: BBC

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    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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