Here are the top 8 electric vehicles of 2022 with solar roofs
With the increased interest in renewable and sustainable energy systems, and of course, electric-powered vehicles, solar-powered cars have come to the fore. Many automobile companies are working towards making solar-powered vehicles.
Solar-powered vehicles are electric vehicles that use photovoltaic cells to convert energy from sunlight into electricity. These vehicles can store some solar energy in batteries to allow them to run smoothly at night or in the absence of direct sunlight. If used on a large scale, solar-powered vehicles not only help with environmental pollution but also noise pollution.
Many prototypes of solar-powered cars are currently in development, and some are even produced.
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Both large and small automakers are involved in developing hybrid solar cars. According to estimates. the solar vehicle market could reach 689 billion by 2027. Automobile companies are already working on ways to capitalize on the idea with interim technology, such as solar roof panels for charging batteries and internal systems.
Here are the eight electric vehicles with solar roofs, that are able to charge themselves while on the way.
Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX
The iconic German automaker debuted the Vision EQXX in January at Consumer Electronics Show (CES), having teased the luxury electric vehicle (EV) several times in recent months. The electric concept sedan boasts a range of 620 miles (1,000 km).
Mercedes already has a luxury EV sedan on the verge of entering the market, the 441-mile-range EQS. With the EQXX, it promises to go further, achieving a drag coefficient of 0.17 compared to the EQS’s 0.20.
One of the standout features of Mercedes’s new luxury EV concept is its 117-cell solar panel roof, which charges ancillary systems in the car, allowing for extra range. The solar roof was developed as part of a collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. According to Mercedes, on a day with ideal conditions, the solar roofing can add up to 15 miles (25 km) of range. As per Mercedes’s statement, this, as well as the battery innovations and aerodynamic design, make the EQXX the most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built.
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The U.S.-based electric carmaker Fisker’s Ocean SUV has an option for a solar roof with the Extreme model. Impressively, it can roll back simultaneously with every window via the car’s California mode. While global window opening isn’t unique to the Ocean SUV, we can’t think of another company that has implemented it at this scale.
The standard Ocean model will start at a price of 37,499. It will come with front-wheel drive, have a range of 250 miles (402 km), and produce 275 horsepower.
The 49,999 Ocean Ultra produces up to 540 horsepower, goes from zero to 60 mph (100 kph) in 3.9 seconds, and has a bigger battery, giving it a range of 340 miles (547 km). The top of the tier, however, is the Ocean Extreme, which has a range of 350 miles (563 km) and will generate 550 horsepower. The Ultra and the Extreme both feature four-wheel drive.
How Does the Solar Roof Work?
The mechanism behind the roof’s function is simple. When sunlight is absorbed by the batteries on the solar panel, electricity is produced. After being processed through various control mechanisms to increase efficiency, the electricity is stored in both the starter battery and the drive battery. This electricity in the drive battery functions to extend the driving distance, while that in the starter battery reduces the time needed by the alternator to charge the starter, thereby reducing the burden to the engine and improving fuel efficiency.
Working principle of the Sonata Hybrid’s solar roof system.
The Prius’s solar roof follows a different working principle: it stores the energy from the roof onto a separate battery, which then transfers the energy to charge the drive battery. Not only does the system requires an additional battery, but it also loses energy efficiency in the process. The Sonata’s system is more efficient in that regard, as it simultaneously charges both the starter and the drive battery.
Hyundai IONIQ 5 with solar roof charging technology
A comparison of the solar roof charging methods on the Sonata Hybrid and the Prius Prime
The Efficiency of the Sonata Hybrid’s Solar Roof
The Sonata’s solar roof underwent much research to improve upon its efficiency. First, there is a relationship between energy efficiency and the angle at which the sun’s rays enter the panel. The solar panel, as it is placed on the car’s roof, is parallel to the ground, but research has found that the ideal angle to maximize the efficiency is at 30 degrees to the ground. The car roof is structurally limited to take the 0-degree angle, which explains its lower efficiency compared to the properly angled rooftop panels.
Considering this, though, Hyundai has installed on the solar roof panels high-performance cells with high charging efficiency. The cells on the Sonata’s panels have a 22.8% efficiency rate, roughly 30~50% higher than the rate for the typical cells used on rooftop panels (15~19%).
The panels installed on the Sonata Hybrid’s solar roof boast a greater efficiency than those installed on normal roofs on buildings
There is also a relationship between efficiency and external conditions. For example, it may appear that dead leaves or dust on the roof will significantly reduce the production of electricity. But tests have confirmed that such conditions resulted only in a 3~10% loss in production. As long as the roof is not completely covered or tarnished, the charging function remains mostly intact.
Tests conducted in various roof conditions—leaves, dirt, or rain—revealed only negligible reductions in energy production
The Effects of the Solar Roof – 1 : Driving Distance
The Sonata Hybrid’s solar panels have a capacity of approximately 200W (204 to be exact); that is, panels exposed to the Sun in good sunlight will produce 200Wh of electricity. That is a non-negligible amount: 200W can turn on two 100-watt bulbs or 11 household LED fluorescent lamps (18W each). At this rate, charging for 5.8 hours per day adds 1,300 km per year to the total driving distance. Those who park their cars outside and/or drive more during the day will see even a greater bonus.
Because the efficiency of the solar roof is subject to external conditions (like the weather), its contributions to fuel efficiency were not reflected in the official fuel efficiency measures. But on average on a standard km/ℓ basis, the roof improves fuel efficiency by about 7%.
The calculation used average hours of sunshine data from the Korean Meteorological Administration and KOSTAT(Statistics Korea). There certainly are variations in weather throughout the year, but the average data takes those variations into account. Hours of sunshine have been increasing from 5.5 hours in 2010 to 6.9 hours in 2018, but the calculation used the more conservative figure of 5.8 hours, a 10-year average value.
Korea has seen an increasing trend in hours of sunshine in the last decade (data from the Korean Meteorological Administration)
Extra Emission-Free Miles, No Charge
The Ocean has one of the larger solar roofs in the industry and will give the owner up to about 1,500 miles of additional range a year in a location like California with good weather, Fisker says.
Under ideal conditions if you go in snail traffic on the way to work, bumper-to-bumper, you could get up to 2,000 miles a year. There comes a point where it is quite efficient, quite a lot of miles you can get free, total zero emission, so I think if you can afford it, it’s a really cool feature.
It’s obviously still really expensive. We have spent a lot of time on developing it and making it work correctly. We put it in because I think it’s a technology that, as we start improving it, maybe in the later stage in some years, we can double or triple the energy. Then suddenly you get to the point where you can do small trips without even using any other power than solar. We are not there yet.
A solar roof is only available on the top trim of the Ocean, the 68,000 Extreme trim, which has a movable glass roof with solar. The base Ocean has a fixed glass roof. The Ultra mid-trim has a movable glass roof called sky roof.
Solar Panel Roofs Coming
The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 midsize electric crossover has an optional solar panel that covers most of the roof and acts as a complimentary charging source to extend the car’s 300-mile range with the 77.4-kWH long-range battery. Hyundai says it can add up to 1,240 miles a year in sunny locations.
As the technology evolves and becomes more efficient, solar power will become a factor, says Karim Habib, head of the Kia Global Design Center. Kia is sister brand to Hyundai, sharing a parent. Habib said he thinks it could become a staple for many companies in the future.
Tesla and Toyota are developing solar cars, as are some startups such as Aptera Motors, Lightyear One, and Sono Motors.
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X electric compact SUV, coming in 2022 with a range of about 250 miles, will offer an optional solar roof in Japan but it is unclear when that option will be available in North America. For customers in Japan, the panels will generate enough electricity to drive about 1,120 additional miles a year of free range, Toyota says.
Tesla showed solar panels on the roll-up, garage-style tonneau cover on the Tesla Cybertruck prototype in 2019 and Musk at that time said the option would be accompanied by fold-out solar wings. Production of the Cybertruck has been pushed back to late 2022 and drone footage of the truck testing shows it has undergone some design changes. It is not clear if solar panels are still part of the design.
Aesthetics and an Open Air Experience
Solar panels are a good idea, generally speaking, says Polestar head of design Maximilian Missoni even though the Precept concept does not have one. The Precept, which will go into production as the Polestar 5, has a long glass roof and no rear window—a camera provides a rear view. The problem with adding solar panels is you get an opaque view instead of a clear one, he says.
While he may not be completely sold on solar panels yet, Missoni thinks a glass roof is becoming an industry standard. The effect of designers like himself continuing to add them to concepts and production vehicles is that they have the power to make people want them. We create a desire for something.
Missoni does not have a problem with glass roofs in EVs in hot climes, requiring the air conditioning to work harder. It is a balance between needing to feel good and enjoy the ride versus efficiency loss, he says. And glass can receive a UV coating.
Removable panels are also emerging as a trend. The Infinity roof on the 2022 GMC Hummer EV electric full-size pickup and the 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV still to come, has four removable transparent roof panels. The 2022 Rivian R1T electric pickup has a fixed sunroof now but will add an optional removable roof in 2022. The Jeep Wrangler and the Ford Bronco have removable roofs, but they are not glass. And Corvettes have come and gone with targa tops.
from Science Tech
The new Sonata has just gone on sale in South Korea and will soon be available in the US.
But the company said it currently had no plans to sell the model in Europe, despite growing demand for eco-friendly cars in countries like the UK.
Last month, Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to build new electric vehicles at its Castle Bromwich plant.