2020 Sonata Hybrid’s Solar Roof Charges Battery Up To 60 Percent Each Day

Following its Korean launch, Hyundai’s all-new 2020 Sonata Hybrid will soon debut in North America, so the automaker has released more details about the vehicle’s solar roof charging system.

A first for the brand, 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.

Furthermore, the 2020 Sonata Hybrid benefits from additional electrical power and driving range thanks to this technology. According to the company, the system , which comes as standard, can charge 30 to 60 percent of the battery per day and six hours of daily charging will increase travel distance by an extra 1,300 km (808 miles) annually.

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.

Also read: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Turned Fully Autonomous By Russia’s Yandex

“Solar roof technology is a good example of how Hyundai Motor is moving towards becoming a clean mobility provider. The technology allows our customers to actively tackle emissions issue. We are striving to further expand the application of the technology beyond eco-friendly vehicle lineup to vehicles with internal combustion engine,” says Heui Won Yang, Senior Vice President and Head of Body Tech Unit of Hyundai Motor Group.

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.

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.

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  • Ben

    1) Is it realistic or is it capacity? Meaning, will the end user ever see a charge up to 60% or is that the capacity of what the solar panel can actually flow to the battery in a given day?

    2) Would this even be applicable to most drivers in the US? Cars are frequently parked in parking garages, residential garages, covered with ice/snow or in a state that has little days of sunshine per year. Even in states such as Arizona, New Mexico or Utah that do have lots of sunshine, most owners purposefully try to park in garages, under parking stalls or in the shade of trees or buildings.

    • Big Black Duck

      you are just a ray of sunshine aren’t you

      • Paulbe

        I think he’s a rainbows and unicorn farts kind of guy.

    • Exotics

      This car is not an electric vehicle. It is 100% dependent on burning fossil fuels. A solar roof on a gasoline car makes zero sense and is comical

      • bd0007

        No, assuming 6 hours of charging, the battery provides 800 miles of range a year or about 2.2 miles per day – which should be enough to cover a good part of stop and go driving.

  • Kevin Cagle

    If this is sold as an option, the only reason people will adopt it is the cool/green factor. Being generous, this is going to save the consumer roughly $100 p/yr of ownership. Even at 7 years of ownership, this is a drop in the bucket I imagine to the cost of adding this to the car.

    • Stephen G

      The cost of these panels is probably easier justify than any vehicle costing more than $40K.

    • bd0007

      May not give enough “bang for the buck” today, but have to start somewhere.

      And that being said, rather have the solar panels up on the roof than a panoramic sunroof.

  • Stephen G

    Stellar idea. I assume this has been so long coming to benefit from decreased pricing of panels. Just don’t let Ronald Reagan see them.

    • Exotics

      With 220- 370 miles of range, a solar roof on any Tesla would be absolutely useless added weight, cost and no benefit.

      This is also not a stellar idea. This car burns and guzzles finite gasoline and emits it through its tailpipes into our atmosphere. This vehicle has no useable electric range.

      Solar roofs are gimmicks. Even more so on a vehicle that burns gasoline. Rofl

      • Stephen G

        Using the figures quoted above this would give me one free ride to work and back every week. How much more does a solar roof weight over a conventional roof smartguy?

      • bd0007

        Hybrids do have “electric” range, but typically only at low speeds – so for city driving/gridlock.

        And for most people, a PHEV would be unnecessarily lugging heavy batteries around (not to mention the added premium).

        Where gas is cheap, even a regular hybrid isn’t worth the added premium.

        That being said, a 48V full hybrid system should the default system for automakers, which allows a vehicle to drive over short distances/low speeds on battery power.

        This would reduce emissions arising from Idling and stop-and-go traffic, in addition to improving fuel economy.

  • Bash

    Brilliant

    • Exotics

      Absolutely not. This car has 0 electric range. It is a hybrid that is 100% dependent on finite gasoline and uses an electric motor with a small battery pack to increase engine and MPG efficiency.

      This car is not an electric vehicle.

      • Dude

        This allows the car to at the very least run the AC and infotainment without running the battery. And though it isn’t an EV it does have electric only range, even if that range is only 15 miles at a max of 40 mph.

      • no25

        I think you misunderstood the article.
        Especially on account it’s a hybrid. No where did it say it was an electric vehicle.

        • bd0007

          You misunderstand what full-hybrids are.

      • JAReim

        Well, no. There is electricity generated by the solar panels, which in turn powers the vehicle through the electric motor. So it isn’t 100% dependent on gasoline, as you say. This is looking at it from a logical perspective.

      • bd0007

        Actually, full-hybrids do have “electric” range, but typically for lower speeds.

        But w/o solar panels, their range is dependent on the electricity generated from the ICE/regenerative brakes.

  • Super Rob

    This goes into the category of “you have to start somewhere”. Is it worth the money, probably not. But that $15k flat panel TV in my 20’s wasn’t worth it. But then they kept getting better and cheaper. So I’m not going to criticize them for trying this. In 100 years does anyone have a doubt that all vehicles will be electric and most likely with some self charging? Gotta start somewhere.

    • Troy Howard

      Great reply

    • ModernMarvelFan

      Trying to scam buyers?

      It has been started long time ago. The math just doesn’t work out.

      • Super Rob

        The math doesn’t work out for electric cars, but we aren’t discontinuing them. Down the line we can all see where they will be the way we move about.

        • ModernMarvelFan

          “The math doesn’t work out for electric cars,”

          Why not? I have done the math and it works out perfectly.

          • Super Rob

            They come out $20k above the price of an equal ICE vehicle and that doesn’t factor in the inability to “fuel” them. I have no idea what calculator you are using to think the math is even in shouting distance.

          • ModernMarvelFan

            “They come out $20k above the price of an equal ICE vehicle ”

            Really, I didn’t know that $40K Model 3 is $20K above a BMW 3 series.

            I guess you must have a funny way to compare that Model 3 with a Toyota Corolla or something.

            Inability to fuel them? You mean I get a 330 miles range every morning after I wake up that the car is doing the filling while I sleep?

            Math is hard, but not that hard, unless you don’t know the basic variables.

  • Six_Tymes

    Is this too good to be true? I say that because, many companies including Telsa tested this idea many times years ago, and no company was able to get this anywhere near 60% efficiency, roofs sizes simply did not provide enough area.

  • Ary Wisesa

    I love the idea. Every tech started with some flaws, but over time, the engineers would find the way to make it better and better. I hope, one day, the scientists could finally figure out to improve the efficiency and weight reduction of the solar panel and overall car weight, while improving the safety. Kudos for Hyundai…. 🙂

  • ModernMarvelFan

    6 hours per day and only good for 2 miles per day? LOL.

    Another scam. How much does it cost?

    It saves about 20 gallons per year. At $3.50/gallon, that is $75 per year.

    Sure, I will take it if it is free. But it is hardly free.

    Based on the exaggerated estimate, the panels is probably around 75-80W. For that size, the raw cost may be around $150. But they will probably charge $500 to $1000 for it.

    If Hyundai charges less than $300 for it, then I would stop calling it a scam.

    • MRPRCAT

      Did you read the article? It’s standard on the hybrid Sonata.

      • ModernMarvelFan

        Just means that price is already included in the hybrid premium.

        The worse part is that now buyers don’t even have the choice.

  • TheBelltower

    This only reinforces why solar panels on cars isn’t a good idea. This system offers piddly, negligible results. Having a 25kWh solar panel array on the roof of your home to charge a plug-in hybrid or EV while also powering your house would be more meaningful. Depending on what this system costs, or adds to the cost of the Sonata, it isn’t worth the bother.

    • MRPRCAT

      Suggesting this isn’t a step forward is shortsighted. Plus, your comment only applies… if you’re a homeowner.

      • TheBelltower

        And solar cells on the roof of the car only work if you park outside on a perfectly sunny day for six hours or more. Then, on a warm day, you might you get a maximum of two miles of added range. It’s about the same level of “step forward” as solar backpacks. In fact, this might be a step backward. One homeowner with the setup I outlined would equal the same energy production as about fifty of these solar-augmented Sonatas. Hyundai should focus on the fuel efficiency of their engines rather than these gimmicks, and deliver 2 extra miles per day without this clumsy system.

  • I firmly believe that such Hybrid cars – 100KM of pure electric range + Bio-fuel powered ICT + Solar Roof will tick all goals of a sustainable car – No single system was able to give desired results till now but a combination will work so good. The initial price will definitely shoot up, but long-term savings will be immense

    I agree with most people that these panels will add piddly amounts of range but there’s a great problem it solves – giving you few extra miles when you’re stranded or do not have access to charging in the day. Moreover – in tropical countries like India, where full & direct sunlight is guaranteed for 330 days on average, it makes all the more sense.

    Too bad, it’ll never come to India.

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