Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors announced in a press release Wednesday that they are working together on solar charging technologyfor integration into hybrid, electric, and internal combustion vehicles. Hyundai plans to roll out this feature in three generations, with the first coming in 2019. The technology will improve fuel economy and range on equipped cars, reducing emissions in the process.
"It is an exciting development for us, designing a technology for vehicle owners to help them shift from being energy users to being energy producers," said Jeong-Gil Park, executive vice president of the engineering and design division of Hyundai Motor Group.
Generation one will be made for PHEVs, the second generation of tech will be made for internal combustion engines, and the third generation will be made for EVs.
The first generation of the technology will be "created out of a structure of silicon solar panels that are integrated into a standard car roof," described Hyundai. As the hybrid car is parked, this roof will have the ability to charge 30 percent to 60 percent of its battery during the course of a day, depending on current weather conditions.
Generation two will be a semi-transparent solar panel embedded into the panoramic sunroof of internal combustion engine vehicles. This system is meant to charge the car's 12-volt battery. The addition of solar panels will allow the car to rely less on the typical alternator charging system, taking stress off of the engine and improving fuel efficiency as a result.
In its release, Hyundai Motor Group doesn't have much to say about the third generation of the technology, other than it "is currently in testing," and it will be applied to the roofs and hoods of future EVs to provide them with a source of clean energy.
"In the future, we expect to see many different types of electricity-generating technologies integrated into our vehicles. The solar roof is the first of these technologies, and will mean that automobiles no longer passively consume energy, but will begin to produce it actively," stated Park.
In the fight to reduce emissions, it's imperative not only for companies to manufacture more efficient cars, but also to power them through renewable sources, such as hydrogen cells, wind power, and solar energy. If the third generation of this technology makes it into production, it could put Hyundai and Kia a step closer to creating a true zero-emissions vehicle.