Audi said it is working with Alta Devices, a subsidiary of the Chinese solar-cell specialist, Hanergy, to develop thin-film solar cells in panoramic glass roofs.
The first joint prototype should be completed by the end of this year.
As the first step, Audi and Hanergy want to integrate Alta Devices’ thin-film solar cells into a panoramic glass roof. In the future, almost the entire roof surface is to be covered with solar cells.
Electricity generated will flow into the car’s electrical system and can supply for example the air-conditioning system or the seat heaters – a gain in efficiency that has a direct positive impact on the range of an electric vehicle.
“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,” Audi executive Bernd Martens said.
At a later stage, solar energy could directly charge the traction battery.
“That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” continued Martens.
The automaker said the cells, produced in California, have an efficiency of more than 25 per cent and are very thin and flexible.
The research and development project marks the first time Alta Devices’ has cooperated with a high-end auto brand.