While Tesla is looking to develop a network of superchargers across all markets, German auto manufacturer Audi has announced a partnership with Alta Devices to install solar cells on the sunroof of its electric vehicles, with the aim of feeding the air-conditioning systems and making the cars more autonomous.

Contract with Alta Devices

Audi officially announced that it had signed a contract with Alta Devices, a subsidiary of Chinese firm Hanergy which specialises in renewable energy sources. This two-company project has been set up to develop solar cells which will initially be integrated into the sun-roof on Audi cars.

A joint press release issued by both companies states that a first prototype will be up and running before the end of the year. Alta Devices, based in California, is a renowned specialist in thin-film solar cells which are very light and flexible, and can pick up between 20% and 25% of photons, even in conditions of low sunlight or significant heat. Audi and Alta Devices added that should the cells work well, they will then fit them across the entire roof and not just the transparent part.

Greater range

While initially, the technology will not be enough to feed the batteries of the electric Audis, the energy produced by the solar cells should nevertheless be enough to run the air-conditioning system or the heated seats, according to the official press release issued by the two companies.

The solar cells will give Audi vehicles greater range, with Alta Devices explaining that in the long term, their aim is to develop an energy-sourcing system along the same lines that will fully charge the batteries, making the vehicles 100% autonomous.

The German auto giant is intending to add at least three electric cars to its range by 2020, starting with the Audi e-tron Quattro which is set to hit the market as early as 2018. These models will likely already be fitted with these ingenious solar cell-based energy-providers.


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