Collaborating with Chinese company Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, auto manufacturer Audi is trying to assimilate solar cells into their electric vehicles via panoramic glass roofs.
A division of Hanergy, Alta Devices, is working on an embedded solar car roof with a goal to help enhance an EV’s range via solar energy into the car’s inner electric systems, like air conditioners. Audi has stated that the solar-roof prototype should be built by the end of 2017.
The company did not provide any additional information on a mass production timeline or investment around this initiative.
The first step in this project? Adding the thin-film solar cells from Alta Devices into the glass roof of the EV. As time moves on, the hope would be that the entire surface of the car’s roof would be solar cells. The electricity garnered will transfer into the vehicle’s electric system to help appliances like the car’s seat heaters or air conditioning to increase efficiency. As Audi’s Procurement Chief Bernd Martens stated, the goal as the project moves forward is to hit an emission-free and sustainable mobility.
The company has been battling recalls, criticism, and investigations around emissions’ controversies and is looking to put a focus on its EVs. In fact, Audi is hoping to reduce costs by approximately $12 billion in the next five years to help fund this focus. It is also hoping to fund investments around zero-emission technology to create a new Porsche production platform, which would thus allow each VW brand to save funds by sharing modules and components.
There are plans in the works for Audi to roll out three battery-electric cars, and the timeline for this is 2020. The company also hopes to have one-third of its car sales dedicated to full-electric drivetrains once 2025. This EV-focused initiative will roll out come 2018, with the release of a crossover constructed on the e-tron quattro idea.
In 2016, Hanergy produced four solar-powered EVs and has been looking to work with auto companies to create and showcase their solar products. This partnership between the two brands is part of an increased force in the industry to use photovoltaics on vehicle roof tops.
Auto News reported that Panasonic in Japan has just begun construction on a variety of 180-watt solar cells that can be placed on the roof of a car. Additionally, Nissan provides clients the option of a solar panel add-on option for their Leaf EV.
Times are certainly changing … and for the better of our environment!