The 2020 Hyundai Sonata mid-size saloon, which was revealed in Seoul this March, will also get a hybrid version equipped with a solar roof that will generate enough electricity for 1,300 km of extra range per year. Hyundai says this additional juice will be available in a car that receives six hours of daily charging for the solar panel on the roof. While this could be a first for Hyundai, supplementing the battery charge of a hybrid system in a car isn’t a new thing. Toyota, which has been a pioneer in petrol-electric hybrid technology, started offering a solar roof option in their Prius a few years ago. More recently, the Japanese carmaker even fitted a Prius with a solar kit that’s capable of charging the vehicle while it is on the move.

But the solar roof isn’t the only feature that distinguishes the Sonata hybrid from its conventional sibling. It also debuts what the Korean automaker refers to as Active Shift Control (ASC). Claimed by Hyundai to be a world-first, the technology optimizes transmission efficiency by monitoring gear shifts 500 times per second, precisely adjusting the transmission rotation speed to achieve faster shift times. ASC applies new control logic software to the Hybrid Control Unit (HCU), which then controls the electric motor to align the rotational speeds of the engine and transmission to reduce gear shift time by 30 per cent. The technology also promises to deliver smoother gear changes despite quicker shift times.

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

“The development of world’s first ASC technology is a remarkable innovation which incorporates precise motor control to automatic transmission,” said KyoungJoon Chang, Vice President and Head of Powertrain Control System Group of Hyundai Motor Group, “It will not only save fuel but also provide a more fun driving experience for our customers.”

The internal combustion engine used in the hybrid setup is a four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol unit from the “Smartstream” family that produces 152 horsepower and 188Nm of torque. The electric motor adds 51 horses and 250 Nm for a combined output of 195 horsepower.

The new transmission technology, which debuts in the Sonata, will eventually be used in future hybrid vehicles from Hyundai and Kia.

Photo: Supplied