Why Does This Hyundai Sonata Prototype Have Solar Panels On Its Roof?

A prototype of the next-generation Hyundai Sonata was recently spied testing on the streets of South Korea. While that alone is pretty interesting, what makes the prototype in question particularly intriguing is that its roof has been adorned with solar panels.

The image above, snapped by The Korean Car Blog, shows a Sonata testing with black fabric covering most of its redesigned body panels. Look at the roof and you’ll notice it is made up almost entirely of solar panels.

Of course, there are a number of production vehicles that have been available with solar panels on their roofs. For example, the 2010 Toyota Prius was offered with such a roof and in Japan, the Toyota Prius Prime can also be equipped with solar panels on its roof. In this application, the roof provides enough power to run the vehicle’s accessories and can charge the lithium-ion battery pack, offering up to 3.7 miles of additional electric range per day.

If Hyundai intends on offering a similar roof on the Sonata, it will obviously only do so on a range-topping Hybrid or Plug-In Hybrid model. However, it remains to be seen how much energy could be generated by this roof but on visual inspection, it does look considerably larger than the solar roof offered for the Prius Prime.

Beyond its new roof, the new Sonata will adopt an overhauled design reflective of the company’s more stylish philosophy recently introduced by the Le Fil Rouge concept car and it just might be closely related to the European 2019 i40, too, though there’s still no official confirmation on that.

Elsewhere, the new Sonata will receive new and revised powertrains, including a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a CVT.

Hat tip to Jose!

Note: 2018 Hyundai Sonata pictured below.

more photos...
  • Dude

    To charge the batteries obviously

    • S3XY

      Ya the 12V. Not the battery that powers the drivetrain. Nowhere close to enough power conversion for adding range.

      • Dude

        I was mostly joking at the headline but I doubt they’d add solar panels just for the 12V. It wouldn’t be worth the cost at all. This is probably a mule meant to test the feasibility of add more efficient solar panels in the future (we’re at ~20 percent right now but >40% is on the horizon)

    • bd0007

      Likely will be a 48V mild hybrid system.

  • Jarosław Kotowicz

    In the world of fake exhaust pipes why not have a fake solar panels ?

  • Ilbirs

    If these solar panels are trully capable of charging the battery of the electric propulsion, this car would be great for those who doesn’t use often their rides: leave this Sonata under the sun and rarely you’ll have to put on the plug, not to say about filling the tank. Confirming this, it’d be also great for everyday use, as you wouldn’t have to take a chord outside the vehicle every time you park when you want to use electricity the most you can and leave combustion just to some occasions.

    • S3XY

      Solar panels on a car roof will not add any significant range to an EV with current technology.

      Hency why Tesla doesn’t use them. Too much weight and nothing of usable gain

      • Ilbirs

        In a hybrid car, the battery itself serves for shorter commutes, thus needing less storage capacity than in a pure electric car. Maybe in this case a solar panel could be useful in adding more kilometers/miles of range. If the owner of a plug-in hybrid car with solar panels seldom drives it but leave it parked under the sun, this would favor a lot this kind of use, as the time stopped would mean charging time no matter if plugged or not.

  • S3XY

    It may look cool but reality is that it adds little to nothing to your range. There’s a reason why Tesla doesn’t have solar roofs on their cars.

  • charlotteharry57

    Be careful. Most of the spy photos recently are not of the Sonata, but of the European i40. This looks to be the latter as well. Shorter than the current Sonata, which makes no sense as US mid-size sedans are all going longer.

  • Six_Tymes

    and the answer is, marketing

  • Andrew Ngo

    I got my 2nd Sonata Hybrid because it has regular transmission. If it is going with CVT, then it is time to say sayonara.

  • Steven

    because having then on the undercarriage wouldn’t make sense

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