Sunroofs are my favorite unheralded car amenity.
What's not to love? They usher in all the sunshine 'n' wind you could need, while allowing you to blast the music of your (possibly guilty) choice without inviting window stares at every intersection.
And yet — I'd gladly trade that all in an instant to see Hyundai and Kia's just-announced plans for a solar-powered hardtop realized.
hyundai (2 images)
To be clear, some cars can already run on solar power. Sort of. Electric vehicle batteries are fully capable of charging at homes that run on solar. (Or wind, or microhydro power, for that matter.) But Hyundai is playing around with putting panels directly on the car, yielding a vehicle that could create its own energy.
Hyundai plans to build this technology into hybrid models before integrating it with ICE and all-electric cars. The concern is just how much extra energy a driver could expect from the cells; if the panels are producing only 100Wh of electricity per hour, they won't exactly be powering your next road trip. Meager mileage gains aside though, it should increase the battery life for your EV and keep the seat warmers humming.
For more information on the project, head here.