If your car’s sunroof lived up to its name it could be doing a whole lot more for you. That’s the idea Sunrise Solar has with its new Solar Roof, a set of photovoltaic cells integrated into a car’s sunroof. By swapping out the boring tinted glass and putting in a solar-powered replacement, your car could charge its batteries and power the AC to keep your car cool.
Details on the San Antonio, Texas-based company’s roof design and intended customers are scant. Is this an after-market item for DIYers to add to their cars or something aimed at automotive OEMs? Sunrise Solar hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment. The company, which is traded on the over-the-counter market, says it also intends to sell a number of consumer-facing solar products, including panels, a cell-phone charger and solar-powered light-up bricks.
We know some vehicle manufacturers are already thinking about putting solar panels on the roofs of their next-gen vehicles. Japanese newspaper Nikkei and Reuters have both reported that the 2010 Prius would sport solar panels that would help power the air conditioning system. Electric car startup Fisker Automotive also intends to use a solar roof to run a cooling system. Fisker, through its powertrain maker and investor Quantum, is having Asola design its roof; the company says solar roofs will be on the first Karmas, due out at the end of the 2009.
However, a solar roof does not a solar-powered car make. The trickle charge coming off of the several square feet of PV cells would be enough to keep some ventilation fans going, but they wouldn’t be able to fully recharge your car’s battery over the course of a day. But it would be nice to find your car comfortably cool after a day of baking in a sunny parking lot.