Hyundai reveals secret weapon to take on Toyota

Hyundai is turning to the sun in its battle to take on the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The upcoming Hyundai Sonata mid-sized sedan will have in-built solar panels on its roof claimed to allow up to 3.6km of emissions-free driving each day.

But, there's a catch: you'll need to keep it in bright sunlight for six hours to reach that modest target.

While it's an important fuel-saving boost in an era when car makers are looking for any edge to reduce the environmental impact of their wares, it reinforces how little energy will be sourced from the roof of the car, with less than 1kWh to be produced on a bright sunny day.

Hyundai has installed solar panels on the roof of the Sonata hybrid.
Hyundai has installed solar panels on the roof of the Sonata hybrid.

That equates to about 20c of electricity every day - again, provided the car is in the sun.

Most of the Sonata's driving will instead be done with a regular 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine powered by good ol' petrol.

Combined with the electric motor as part of the hybrid system it produces 143kW of power, 17kW less than the rival Toyota Camry that is the car's prime competitor.

Claimed fuel use for the Sonata Hybrid is 5.0 litres per 100km, more than the 4.2L/100km of the rival Camry.

However, those fuel figures don't take into account energy harnessed from the sun, something that could significantly lower fuel use for those doing only short trips each day.

Hyundai is hoping to gain ground on the best selling Toyota Camry.
Hyundai is hoping to gain ground on the best selling Toyota Camry.

Reinforcing its focus on technology, the new Sonata also comes with a digital key that allows owners to leave the physical key at home.

It uses near field communication built into some smartphones and a dedicated app to unlock or lock the car.

Owners can also temporarily share the key via the app with friends or family, effectively allowing remote access to the vehicle.

Hyundai Australia hasn't yet committed to the hybrid version of the new Sonata that goes on sale later this year, instead saying it is under review.

However, Hyundai has been reinforcing its push towards hybrid and electric propulsion in recent years. Over the past 12 months it introduced three versions of the Ioniq and an all-electric version of the Kona SUV.



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