Hyundai first made the jump to hybrids back in 2009. Today the company has more than a half dozen hybrid and electric vehicles in their line-up.
The next step in Hyundai’s evolution: adding solar to the mix. It’s not a full-blown solar-powered car, mind you, but the all-new Sonata Hybrid does feature an integrated solar panel on its roof.
According to Hyundai, the panel can recharge 30 to 60% of the car’s battery in a day. Hyundai also estimates that the panel is capable of adding an extra 1,300km of range over the course of a year with 6 hours of daily charging.
While the first-gen solar roof isn’t a major game-changing, it will still provide a nice boost to the Sonata Hybrid’s already solid 40/46MPG. Perhaps more importantly, it will help to further reduce the car’s emissions.
Looking to the future, Hyundai says the solar roof “opens up perspectives for vehicles no longer need fossil fuel to operate.” The solar-enhanced Sonata Hybrid is on sale now in Korea and is expected to hit North American shores soon.
Other markets won’t see this model on dealer lots, but you can count on seeing other Hyundai hybrids and EVs adding solar roofs in the coming years. Hyundai announced plans to integrate solar late last year and originally said the roof panels wouldn’t make their debut until after this year.
It looks like they might be a little ahead of schedule, and that’s good news. Older, dirtier vehicles that are still on the road are a bigger environmental concern, but it’s important that any new vehicles that roll out are as eco-friendly as possible.
Hyundai isn’t the only automaker turning to solar for a boost. Toyota recently re-introduced rooftop panels as an option on the Prius Prime. It’s their second time using the panels, and this time they actually supply charge to the car’s battery. The first time around they could only power the climate controls.
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