Hanergy Unveils Solar-Powered Cars to Expand Use of Technology

Hanergy Holding Group Ltd. introduced four cars powered by solar panels as it seeks to expand the use of photovoltaic technology to products ranging from furniture to bags.

Cars powered by solar cells can be commercialized, the company said Saturday in a statement in Beijing. The cars, which can be charged in daylight while being driven, also contain lithium batteries, making it possible to be charged in stations, when the sun is blocked or on long-distance trips, it said.

Hanergy is a large clean-energy company and one of the largest thin-film solar cell manufacturers in the world. Hanergy is also the owner of U.S. based Alta Devices, which it bought in 2014.

The four Hanergy vehicles are basically standard electric cars with solar power functioning as an extra source to extend range, like the original Alta Devices concept. The vehicles store energy in lithium ion batteries and can be charged at any charging station.

However, Hanergy has added three crucial new inventions to the technology. Firstly, the vehicles are able to drive on solar power alone. The Hanergy Solar A has a combined range (battery + solar panel) of 350 kilometer and a solar-only range of 80 kilometer.

Secondly, the solar panels can be used to power different motors. The Hanergy Solar R has solar panels on the hood and on the roof. The former are being used to power an electric motor on the front axle, whereas the latter powers a motor on the rear axle.

Thirdly, and most interesting, the surface of the solar panels can be extended when the vehicle is stopped to allow for faster charging. There are two ways this can be done: by temporarily using the windows as extra panels or by folding out the roof-based solar panels, in true space-station style. In this way the panels of the Hanergy Solar A can be extended to 7.5 square meters, allowing a full solar charge in six hours.

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