Audi Looking Into Boosting EV Range Using Solar Roofs

Together with China’s Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, Audi is looking to integrate solar cells into their panoramic roofs for upcoming models.

The German automaker stated that Alta Devices, a unit of the solar cell firm Hanergy, will be responsible for designing the solar-embedded panoramic roofs that will eventually boost the range of EVs by feeding solar energy directly into the internal electrical systems, like air conditioning and heated seats.

According to Audi, a prototype will be built by the end of this year, though unfortunately, no further details were released, as reported by Autonews.

Audi is also planning on launching three battery-electric cars by 2020, while looking to cover one third of its vehicle sales with fully electric powertrains by the year 2025. The company is also aiming to cut costs by about $12 billion by the year 2022, in order to fund a total shift from internal combustion engines to full electric.

This recent partnership between Audi and Hanergy is just one of many growing efforts within the automotive industry, directed at using solar power. Panasonic has already started producing a 180-watt array of solar cells that can be fixed to the roof of a car, while Nissan will install an add-on solar panel as an optional extra on the Leaf.

  • Adi

    Audis had solar roof like 20 years ago. I think it was used to power air conditioning when the engine was off. So why would they build a prototype when they already built it 2 decades ago.

    • europeon

      There is simply not enough surface on a car to have solar cells that power anything else but some ancillary systems, but, this is a selling point for all those who think they can save the planet this way.

      • Kash

        I dunno. Solar panel tech has some a long way. If they also managed to turn the windows of the car into solar panels and say you work 9-5 and park your car in the sun while at work you could increase your range by at least 10mi if not more.

        • europeon

          Not even close. 10 miles/day would be the holy grail for the electric cars. I’ve done some math in the comments of an article from a few days ago, and I’ve been very optimistic with panels that can generate 300-400W at peak efficiency and that’s barely enough to move the car – you have to have a big car in order to have enough surface for the solar cells, and big cars draw a lot of power – and in this article they mention 180W solar cells. Factor in the high costs of embedding the cells in the car’s panels, and you’ll see this is not in any way feasible.
          You’d be better off with the solar panels installed on your roof so you can charge your car at night.

          • Six Thousand Times

            Your last sentence is definitely true and you were where you needed to be by saying this will power some ancillary systems so they don’t rob too much power from the motors. Keep your expectations in check and this technology is a really good idea.

        • Six Thousand Times

          Yeah, there’s some power to be gained and the tech just gets better and cheaper. Why not?

    • Six Thousand Times

      They did and it worked – sort of. Fisker also tried it and it did not go too well. Cells are getting better and, most importantly, thinner so this is something worth going for – as long as you don’t expect to power the whole car forever and ever, yeah, it will add a little extra boost of juice.

  • Auf Wiedersehen

    Honestly not sure why this hasn’t been researched more

  • Ermal Morina

    Nope,I’d rather have a panorama roof

  • aaronbbrown

    This seems like a no-brainer for every electric car company, the whole body should be one giant solar cell. Eventually cars will be like solar watches, they won’t need any other energy source but the sun to recharge

    • brn

      You either overestimate the power of the sun or underestimate the power needed to propel a car.

      • Six Thousand Times

        There’s really no overestimation of the power of the sun. And you can propel a decent-sized car on less than 10hp. There are many, many, slips still between cup and lip but a solar-powered car could be feasible – it would take a while though.

        • europeon

          > There’s really no overestimation of the power of the sun.

          Yup, there is. You are doing it.

          Average sun energy reaching the earth surface per square meter per hour ~ 160W (yes, you get peaks of 1000W, but only for a couple of hours a day and you have to point the panels directly towards the sun)
          10hp = 7457W
          You do the math how big of a surface covered in solar cells (even with 100% efficiency, altho we’re at less than 20% right now) you need for that to be feasible.

          • Six Thousand Times

            You can overestimate our ability to transfer that power to usable force but the sun’s power is, as far as we are concerned, limitless.

          • europeon

            I presented you with the numbers and facts, what’s so hard to understand that sun’s energy is not limitless? In fact it’s not enough to power a car in this way.
            It bothers me that people are blinded by this “free energy” thing and everytime there are scammers to take advantage of this, like with the solar roadways. It’s money that could be better spent in other ways, like wind energy, cancer research, or anything else BUT this kind of scams.

          • Six Thousand Times

            You presented some of the numbers and even a few facts. Then you made an assumption about what I was saying based upon something somebody else said and whatever you may have going on in your head. Then you sighed.

          • europeon

            Because those numbers simply don’t add up, nomatter how hard you’re rooting for some techological breakthrough. Unless you’ll have a car that has folding solar panels (think the space station and satellites), or a big magnifying lens focusing light on that car, you don’t have enough surface to do it. Simple as that. It’s not ever going to happen.
            Look at the solar powered vehicle competitions -glorified bikes with huge solar panels, nowhere near what you can call a car.

          • Six Thousand Times

            Again more assumptions based on something I didn’t say.

          • europeon

            a solar-powered car could be feasible

            You said that. Literally.

          • Six Thousand Times

            Isn’t it late there? Don’t tell me you’re the only man in Romania who can’t find a prostitute?

            Well, since Sunraycer and its ilk were technically cars…

          • europeon


          • brn

            As soon as he stated the power of the sun was “limitless”, you should have given up.

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