SUNNYVALE, Calif.—Audi and Alta Devices, a subsidiary of solar-cell specialist, Hanergy Thin Film Power, plan to work together to integrate solar cells into panoramic glass roofs of Audi models. With this cooperation, the partners aim to generate solar energy to increase the range of Audi electric vehicles. The first prototype is expected to be developed by the end of 2017.
As the first step, Audi and Alta Devices (www.altadevices.com) will integrate solar cells into a panoramic glass roof. But the companies plan to eventually cover almost the entire surface of the roof with solar cells, which they say is possible due to Alta’s uniquely flexible, thin, and efficient technology. 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 positive impact on the range of an Audi electric vehicle.
“The range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers,” said Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement Dr. Bernd Martens, in a press release. “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. 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.”
Alta Devices’ innovative solar cells will generate the green electricity. The solar cells are reported to be very thin and flexible, hold the world-record for efficiency, and perform extremely well in low light and high temperature environments.
“This partnership with Audi is Alta Devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand,” said Dr. Jian Ding, senior vice president 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. “By combining Alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology with Audi’s drive toward the future of the auto industry, we will define the solar car of the future.”