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Hyundai Motor Company has launched its first ever car with a solar roof charging system. This car is the company’s version of the Sonata hybrid that has solar panels to charge the battery.

The idea of attaching solar panels to vehicles is not a new one, and neither is it restricted to land-based modes of transport.

The company claimed the panels mounted on the roof charge the vehicle’s battery even while driving, thus preventing battery discharge, improving fuel efficiency, and reducing CO2 emissions. It can charge 30 to 60 percent of the battery per day. With six hours of charge per day, the vehicle could increase travel distances by 1,300 kilometers per year.

The idea is for the solar roof to support the car’s electric power source, boost fuel efficiency and lower carbon dioxide emissions, Hyundai said. Silicon solar panels have been attached to the roof of the vehicle and can charge while the car is moving.

When solar energy activates the panel’s surface, the roof converts it by using photons of light from the sun. This creates the electron-hole pairs in silicon cells, which in turn generate electricity that is subsequently converted to the standard voltage by a controller, and then stored in the battery.

Heui Won Yang, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Body Tech Unit, said that the technology allowed its customers to “actively tackle” issues related to emissions, adding that the business hoped to expand the technology to vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines.

The new Sonata hybrid uses a 150-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 51-hp electric motor, a setup similar to that of the outgoing model. Total output is 192 horsepower, 1 horsepower down from the current car.

The six-speed automatic transmission has what Hyundai calls Active Shift Control, which uses the electric motor to align the speeds of the engine and transmission, reducing shift times by up to 30 percent.

The 2020 Sonata Hybrid is powered by a Smartstream G2.0 GDi HEV four mated to a six-speed hybrid transmission with Active Shift Control technology.

Likewise, the gasoline engine develops 150 HP and 188 Nm (139 lb-ft) of torque, with the electric motor adding another 51 HP and 205 Nm (151 lb-ft). Hyundai says it currently has no plans to bring the Sonata Hybrid to Europe, where it continues to sell the i40 in sedan and wagon body styles.

A Hyundai spokesperson told C/D that information on the U.S.-spec Sonata hybrid will be available later in the year, at which point we should find out about pricing and fuel-economy numbers. The 2019 model was slightly more expensive than its standard gas counterpart but had better fuel-economy numbers. It was rated by the EPA at 41–42 mpg combined, compared with the 26–31 mpg ratings of the various standard Sonatas.

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