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Audi to put solar panels in sunroofs for future electric/hybrid cars

Electric range is a huge issue for many hybrid and pure EV cars, as range anxiety is the biggest hurdle for car buyers looking to get into something electric. So automakers are going to extreme lengths to increase EV range. One interesting idea is to use solar panels on the roof of a car that can put some electricity back into the battery, enough to power the air conditioning or heated seats. The problem with this is that solar panels can be heavy and they would replace the sunroof. Except Audi now has partnered with Alta Devices, a subsidiary of the Chinese solar-cell specialist, Hanergy to develop glass solar panels that can be added to the sunroof.

“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,” said Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement, Dr. Bernd Martens.

In a nutshell, thin-film solar cells will be integrated into the panoramic sunroof, so as too add some juice back into the electrical system. This will only add enough power to run certain secondary functions but anything that helps efficiency, even a little bit, is a good thing. In the future, Audi would like to cover the entire sunroof with these sort of panels. Audi also believes that the future could bring more efficient and powerful solar panels that car create far more energy.

“That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” continued Martens.

This partnership between Audi and Alta can potentially be huge and extremely helpful in the future. “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”, said 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.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.