Audi AG and Alta Devices, a subsidiary of the Chinese solar-cell specialist, Hanergy, are working together to increase the range of electric vehicles. The first prototype is to be built by the end of 2017.
As the first step, thin-film solar cells will be installed into the panoramic glass roofs of cars but later, almost the entire roof surface will be covered with solar cells. The electricity they generate will flow into the car’s electrical system for running the air-conditioning system or the seat heaters – a gain in efficiency that has a direct positive impact on the range of an electric vehicle.
“The range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers. Together with Hanergy, we plan to install innovative solar technology in our electric cars that will extend their range and is also sustainable,” stated Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement Dr. Bernd Martens.
At a later stage, solar energy could directly charge the traction battery. “That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” continued Martens.
The green electricity will be generated by innovative solar cells which are very thin and flexible and have an efficiency of more than 25 percent. Tests have shown that they perform very well also in conditions of low light and high temperature. The solar cells are produced by Alta Devices in California.
Dr. Ding Jian, senior Vice President of Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Limited, CEO of Alta Devices, Inc. and co-leader of the Audi/Hanergy Thin Film Solar Cell Research and Development Project, said: “This partnership with Audi is Alta Devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand. By combining Alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology and Audi’s drive toward a sustainable mobility of the future, we will shape the solar car of the future”.