Audi has announced that the company will be working with Alta Devices, a subsidiary of China based Hanergy on the development of solar cells which will be integrated into the glass of panoramic roofs for generating energy. The concept is slated to be ready for testing and installation on a test vehicle by the end of this year and may possibly be deployed on a future Audi model.
One limitation of electric vehicles is that given the time needed for charging a single vehicle, when electric vehicles become more prevalent, the charging infrastructure will not be adequate to meet the demand.
If Audi has its way, the solar cells installed in the panoramic roof will supplement the electricity needed to run accessories like the headlights and airconditioning so that there is less strain on the powertrain.
Alta Devices makes thin-film solar cells and these will be used to almost cover the entire roof surface. The electricity they produce will flow into the vehicle’s electrical system and can be harnessed effectively to reduce the burden when it comes to recharging. These innovative solar cells are very thin and flexible and have an efficiency of more than 25 percent. They also perform very well even in adverse conditions like low light and high temperature. The solar cells are produced by Alta Devices in California.
Both Audi and Volkswagen are planning to launch at least eight fully electric models by 2022. Audi is also planning to venture into the development of cells for providing sufficient power to its powertrain.
Commenting on the agreement with Alta Devices, Dr. Bernd Martens, a member of Audi’s Board of Management, stated that powering “would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility”.
Dr. Ding Jian, senior vice-president of Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, CEO of Alta Devices, Inc and co-leader of the Audi/Hanergy Thin Film Solar Cell Research and Development Project said that the agreement with Audi is Alta Devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand. He expressed his hope that the two companies would be able to develop the solar car of the future by leveraging Alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology and Audi’s drive toward a sustainable mobility of the future.
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