Renault Group

Solarbay opacifying sunroof: pampering passengers

9 January 2024
Innovation & technology

Blocking out the sun while keeping the passenger compartment light and the temperature right isn’t easy with a traditional glass roof. But it’s not a problem in the recent Renault Rafale E-Tech full hybrid and Scenic E-Tech electric models, which come with an innovative panoramic roof that turns opaque or transparent, all the way or half the way, on request, and keeps the indoor temperature comfortable in summer as well as winter. This opacifying sunroof, Solarbay, is a joint development by Renault and Saint-Gobain Sekurit, and now a key feature in the “voitures à vivre” philosophy that the brand holds dear. Anne-Chloé Kort, Scenic E-Tech Electric Product Leader, and Gregory Launay, Rafale Product Performance Leader, tell us how Solarbay was designed to delight everyone in the car.

BY Emmanuel Genty

When the midday sun is beating down on a glass roof, the only way to shield yourself from the rays and heat was to pull the well-known sunshade. But Solarbay, the new-generation opacifying sunroof in Renault’s recent Rafale E-Tech full hybrid and Scenic E-Tech electric models, has rendered sunshades obsolete.

At Renault, we are innovating non-stop to improve life on board our vehicles and comfort standards for our customers. Solarbay is an smart, high-tech feature that does exactly that.

Anne-Chloé Kort
Product Leader, Renault Scénic E-Tech electric

It’s your choice

Let the sun shine in – or keep it out but let the light in: the Solarbay opacifying sunroof’s main job is as simple as that. And it does it the simple and swift way.

Simple: you operate it using a button by the ceiling light, which the driver and passenger in the front can reach, or voice-operate it via Google Assistant – which all passengers, including the ones in the back, can do.

Swift: this panoramic sunroof is over one metre long but opacifies or lightens entirely in less than five seconds. And it does it in style, with an up-to-the-minute, subtle yet spectacular “wave” that sweeps across the nine glass segments.

But Solarbay has another trick up its sleeve: you can opacify it entirely or not: “Solarbay can switch to four positions: all transparent, all opaque, transparent at the front and opaque at the rear, and vice-versa,” points out Gregory Launay, Renault Rafale Product Performance Leader.

Not only can the Solarbay sunroof be partially or totally opaque, but it can do so spectacularly by means of a wave passing through its nine segments

The people who will benefit the most from the pioneering Solarbay are the ones in Rafale or Scenic. The driver, of course, who doesn’t have to stretch all the way back to pull the sunshade when the sun is too bright, but also the passengers in the rear – especially children. They can play or sleep protected from the sun, and the driver and passenger in the front can enjoy the light when you dim the rear and leave the front transparent.


Upsides everywhere

The Solarbay opacifying sunroof also keeps the indoor temperature comfortable. As Anne-Chloé Kort puts it, “Solarbay doesn’t just keep the sunrays out: it also keeps the temperature inside stable. With its various glass layers, it doesn’t matter if it’s -5°C or +30°C outdoors: the temperature indoors will be the same!” So that feeling of stepping into a freezer in winter and a sauna in summer is also a thing of the past.

The different layers of the Solarbay opacifying sunroof protect occupants from temperature variations inside the cabin

To do that, Solarbay automatically switches to opaque when you turn off the motor and leave the car. Then, when you come back, it will switch back to the setting it was in when you left, no action required. Again, simple and swift.

Solarbay comes with two extra upsides: as the sunshade is gone, the ceiling is 3 cm higher – which will thrill taller passengers. And the car is more efficient: Solarbay weighs 6 to 8 kg less than a traditional sunroof with motor-operated sunshade, so many significant savings that are possible.

As well as improving on-board comfort, Solarbay is also more efficient, weighing less than a glass roof with a motorised sunshade

Innovation for all

Renault has always made a point of keeping innovation affordable and of fast-tracking it into the mainstream. Solarbay may be at the cutting edge of technology but is no exception to this rule.

The Solarbay opacifying sunroof in Rafale E-Tech full hybrid and Scenic E-Tech electric uses the AmpliSky system from Saint-Gobain Sekurit, based on PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Cristal) technology. Essentially, this technology uses an electric field to displace molecules between two sheets of glass and that is what opacifies the roof.

Renault is the first generalist carmaker to offer this technology including the dual control, the choice of splitting the settings at the front and rear, and the ultramodern transition across the nine segments. The brand is making this technology affordable, and its performance is at the high end of the market – above that of premium models.

Gregory Launay
Product Performance Leader, Renault Rafale
With Solarbay, the Rafale is an example of a top-of-the-range model democratising an innovation

Everyone on board Rafale and Scenic – the driver and passengers, be they grown-ups, teens, kids or toddlers – will enjoy the innovative Solarbay sunroof. In the finest tradition of Renault’s “voitures à vivre”.