AUDI developing solar panels to help power its electric vehicles

AUDI developing solar panels to help power its electric vehicles

together with alta devices, AUDI are developing thin-film solar panels to be fitted into the panoramic glass roofs of its car designs. this technology aims to generate solar energy in order to increase the range of its forthcoming electric vehicles, such as the already previewed ‘e-tron sportback’. as well as its small size and flexibility, the green innovations claim to have an efficiency of 25% and perform well even in low light conditions.

the AUDI e-tron quattro concept 
all images courtesy of AUDI AG



the range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers. together with alta devices and hanergy, we plan to install innovative solar technology in our electric cars that will extend their range and is also sustainable,’ stated AUDI board of management member for procurement, dr. bernd martens. ‘that 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 limited, CEO of alta devices, inc. and co-leader of the AUDI/hanergy thin film solar cell research and development project, said: ‘this partnership with AUDI is alta devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand. by combining alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology and AUDI’s drive toward a sustainable mobility of the future, we will shape the solar car of the future.

an example of the thin-film solar cells to be fitted in panoramic glass roofs of AUDI models



with the first prototype set to be build by the end of 2017, AUDI are teaming up with alta devices, a subsidiary of the chinese solar-cell specialists, hanergy. this development will see the ultra-thin solar cells be placed within the automobiles’ glass roofs, but the german brand are thinking on a much bigger scale in the long term. in the future, they are planning to cover almost the entire top surface with solar cells, enhancing the sun’s energy to power the car’s electrical system, like the air-conditioning, and thus improve the EV’s driving range.

  • Sorry to disappoint, but a small solar panel on the roof of a car is not going improve the range by anything useful. Based, on 2 square meters, 25% efficiency, brightest sunlight for 10 hours, you’re looking at total 5 kWh that’s absolutely best case scenario. Which would be worth about 15 miles of driving – that’s the best you’ll ever see.

    More likely, you only have 1 square meter of roof area, you only get about 15% efficiency, and only about 7 hours of good sunlight. That’ll be:- 1 kWh, about 3 miles of driving.

    Probably not worth the effort and expenses.

    This is probably just a story to keep some interest up in the Audi EV programme more than anything else..


    Tam says:
  • I like the fact you’re bringing things back down to Earth Tam, with numbers and stuff. But I don’t think it’s quite as useless an effort as you suggest.

    The point is not to make a solar-powered vehicle!

    Now that CAN be done, and races are run every year across Australia using totally solar-powered cars, which are super-light, ridiculously aerodynamic, and have every inch covered in solar cells. Those vehicles tend to average about 50mph, but they’re all seriously experimental.

    Back here in the real world, imagine you go away for the weekend and you can’t charge your car at your destination. It will sit all day in the sun for two days, soaking up a useful amount of energy. And since that energy is free, and there’s really no down-side to making a glass roof into a solar panel, then why not?

    People have objected to a wholesale move to EV’s because there would then be more load on the power grid, but I predict that all cars will have solar cells built in all over their upper surfaces. There’s no reason you couldn’t build the cells right into the paint layer on body panels, as well as in all the windscreens. Those cars will get a full fast charge from the house or street supply, then will continue to pump power back into the grid from their solar cells.

    A typical car spends at least 95% of its life sat idle under the sky. I see no reason why cars couldn’t be more-or-less self-sufficient in energy, and have a nett zero or even a positive impact on the power grid.

    Paul says:
  • Tam – It depends if you are trying to increase range, or decrease the amount of time between charging. Based on your numbers – if you only did a few miles in you car a day, and the rest of the time it just sat there – then in theory you wouldn’t need to ever charge it. So that would be good!

    Ian says:
  • Perfect for me then – I work 1.5 miles from my house!

    Katey says:

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