Adding solar panels to the roof of an electric vehicle is a bit of a no-brainer, but an affinity for panoramic sun roofs complicates things slightly.
Audi thinks it might have the solution.
Working together with California’s Alta Devices (a subsidiary of China’s Hanergy), Audi wants to put thin-film solar cells into its glass roofs, with a view to eventually covering the whole roof in energy harvesting solar panels.
Although they won’t be powerful to enough to power the car yet, the panels will harvest enough power to run secondary electric systems like the air conditioner, which has a direct impact the range of electric vehicles.
“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 Dr. Bernd Martens, head of Procurement.
Alta Devices holds the single and dual junction solar efficiency records at 28 and 31%. Audi claims that the solar panels actually going into its cars have an efficiency of more than 25%. On top of that, they’re thin, flexible, and even perform in low light.
Eventually, though, Audi expects that the panels’ performance can be improved to the point where they actually help move the car directly.
“That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” said Martens.
A version of this story originally appeared on VW Vortex
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