‘Solar roof’ charging technology

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

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

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.

Hyundai is developing three types of solar roof charging systems: the first-generation system is for hybrid vehicles, while the second-generation technology brings a semi-transparent solar roof system to ICE vehicles. The third generation of the technology will see the introduction of a lightweight solar roof for battery electric vehicles. 

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.

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, whilst charging the vehicle’s battery at the same time.

The third-generation system is currently in testing. It is designed to be applied to the hood and roof of eco-friendly battery electric vehicle models.

The solar charging system is composed of a solar panel, a controller and a battery. As the panel absorbs photons of light from the sun, it creates electron-hole pairs in silicon cells, enabling current to flow and generating electricity.