Audi and Alta Devices of Sunnyvale, CA, USA (a subsidiary of solar-cell specialist Hanergy Thin Film Power) plan to cooperate on integrating solar cells into the panoramic glass roofs of cars, aiming to generate solar energy to increase the range of Audi electric vehicles. The first prototype will be developed by the end of 2017.
Audi and Alta Devices will integrate solar cells into a panoramic glass roof as a first step. In the future, because Alta’s gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cell technology is flexible, thin and efficient, almost the entire roof surface will be covered with solar cells. The electricity generated from the cells will flow into the car’s electric system and can supply, for example, the air-conditioning system and seat heaters – a gain in efficiency that has a direct benefit to electric vehicle range.
“The range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers,” says Dr Bernd Martens, Audi board member for Procurement. “Together with Alta Devices and Hanergy, we plan to install innovative solar technology in our electric cars that will extend their range and is also sustainable,” he adds.
At a later stage, solar energy could directly charge the traction battery of Audi electric vehicles. “That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” says Martens. Alta Devices’ solar cells are very thin and flexible, hold the record for solar energy conversion efficiency, and perform well in low-light and high-temperature environments,” he adds.
“This partnership with Audi is Alta Devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand,” notes Dr Jian Ding, senior VP of Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd., CEO of Alta Devices Inc and co-leader of the Audi/Hanergy Thin Film Solar Cell Research and Development Project.