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Hyundai launches car with a solar-charging roof

While slapping a solar panel on the roof of the car and charging an EV for free is the dream, the reality is that a car roof-sized solar panel simply can't provide enough electricity to make a meaningful contribution to an EV's battery.

But that doesn't mean they can't help, and Hyundai has just taken a step in that particular direction by launching its first car to feature a solar panel roof - the Sonata Hybrid - that the company claims will not only provide vehicles with additional electrical power, but will also increase fuel efficiency and driving range.

The solar roof system includes a structure of silicon solar panels that are mounted on the car's roof and a controller. Being able to charge even while driving, Hyundai says that the solar roof system can charge 30 to 60 per cent of the battery per day and with 6 hours of daily charging, it is expected to increase travel distance of the hybrid by an extra 1,300km annually.

"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" says, Heui Won Yang, Senior Vice President and head of Body Tech Unit of Hyundai Motor Group.

While the company admits that the solar roof system currently only plays a "supporting role", it says that it does "open up perspectives for vehicles that no longer need fossil fuel to operate."

While the Sonata Hybrid is now on sale in Korea and will soon be sold in North America, Hyundai currently has no plans to expand sales of this model to the European market or, at this stage at least, New Zealand.

"The Sonata Hybrid isn't currently available for us to order, but this is a model we're excited by and will be keeping a close eye on if and when it becomes available to us," Hyundai New Zealand's media spokesperson Kimberly Waters told Stuff.

"As the leading new EV brand in New Zealand, we are committed to bringing in models that contribute to a cleaner New Zealand," Waters said.  "We already have an extensive line up of EV powertrains with the Ioniq Hybrid, PHEV and Electric, as well as Kona."

"Whilst not yet available to the NZ market, in June we showcased the Nexo, our first fuel cell electric SUV which demonstrates our commitment to alternative fuel technology.

"As Hyundai Motors continues to develop EV technology across our model range we will be reviewing very closely to see what is available for us to bring to New Zealand."

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