The most recent automakers to offer solar panel roofs on their cars are Hyundai and Kia, as was announced Wednesday.
The Korean firms said solar roofs will become available beginning in 2019. It is known which markets and vehicles will feature the solar roofs, while some of them will have a translucent design.
Karma (formerly Fisker) already offers solar roofs on its Revero sedan, while Audi announced solar panel plans a year ago.
The Hyundai and Kia solar roofs will be used to charge vehicle batteries and initially will be fitted to hybrids, along with conventional powertrain cars. In the conventional vehicles, the generated power can power vehicle features such as the air conditioner and seat heaters. This will provide the opportunity to improve overall efficiency through saving extra energy.
The initial system in development is a traditional silicon-based solar roof that will be fitted to hybrids and depending on the level of sunlight has the potential to charge the car batter between 30 and 60 percent of its capacity within a day.
The next system to be developed will feature a more advanced design that will have a translucent appearance and will initially be used on cars with conventional powertrains. Through the use of a panoramic sunroof with semi-transparent solar panels, the roof will have the ability to both generate energy and allow light into the cabin. Another future development of the solar roofs includes a lightweight panel that can be applied to the car’s hood or trunk.