Hanergy Plans To Build Solar Powered Cars


Hanergy is a large Chinese company that specializes in making advanced thin film solar panels. In a twist on Elon Musk’s plan to morph Tesla Motors into an energy company that sells rooftop systems, Hanergy wants to go in the opposite direction. It wants to use it expertise in solar panels to launch a foray into the automotive business.

Hanergy solar powered cars

On July 2, it launched 4 solar powered vehicles at a gala ceremony outside its headquarters in Beijing. Called “Disruptive Innovations Drive the Future,” it provided a showcase for the Hanergy Solar R sports car, along with the Hanergy Solar O, Hanergy Solar L, and Hanergy Solar A, all of which are targeted at different segments of the automotive market.

Li Hejun, CEO of Hanergy Holding Group, told the more than 4,000 people who attended the event about the advantages of thin-film solar cells. They are light in weight and flexibile, which makes it possible for them to be integrated into a variety of products such as cars, unmanned aerial vehicles, mobiles, backpacks and clothes. The full solar power vehicles making their debut showcase the latest achievements of Hanergy’s mobile energy strategy, Li said.

With a conversion rate of 31.6%, Hanergy’s gallium arsenide (GaAs) dual-junction solar cell was awarded with a World Record Certificate by the World Record Association at the launch event. The technology had previously been recognized by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States for its world’s highest conversion rate on January 5, 2016.

As Hanergy’s full solar power vehicles acquire power directly from the sun, they do not depend on charging posts and thus have no need to bother with “distance per charge” anymore, making “zero charging” possible during medium and short distance journeys. Breaking the bottleneck of poor practicality of previous solar-powered vehicles, the four launched by Hanergy are the first full thin-film solar power vehicles that can be commercialized, redefining new energy vehicles.

According to Dr. Gao Weimin, vice president of Hanergy Holding Group and CEO of its solar vehicle division, the four solar power vehicles are integrated with flexible GaAs thin-film solar cells, covering 3.5 to 7.5 square meters respectively. Given six hours of sunlight, the thin-film solar cells on the vehicle are able to generate eight to ten kilowatt-hours of power a day. That’s enough to let them travel about 50 miles. That is sufficient range for most daily commuting needs.

The vehicles can recharge themselves while driving. For long distance trips, they can also be plugged in to a conventional EV charger. The lithium batteries in the vehicles have a maximum range of about 200 miles on a full charge.

“The reason I’m here is because I very much believe in what Hanergy is doing by making a car totally powered by solar energy.” said American renewable energy expert Dr. Woodrow W. Clark II, who was present the ceremony. In his view, the full solar power vehicle developed by Hanergy is the symbol of a green industrial revolution.

Hanergy Holding Group is a multinational clean energy company and the world’s leading thin film solar power company. Established in 1994, it has branches throughout China as well as all 7 continents. Its core businesses included hydropower, wind power and thin-film solar power.

We have almost no details on the vehicles Hanergy says it will build, but the idea of getting a portion of the energy needed to power electric cars directly from the sun is intriguing.


About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Kieran Delaney

    Didn’t Fisker try this, and fail?

  • Tadeusz Piskozub

    More like 30 miles probably, but that’s still impressive.

    I was wondering how they achieved 7.5 square metres. After some googling I found, that the trick here is that the panels on the roof are normally folded and can be extended when parked.

    Obviously this is going to pose a problem in mostly occupied parking lots, but then again the theoretical limit for multi-junction solar cells is 86.6%, so I guess there’s room for improvement here.

    • Steve Hanley

      Good sleuthing. Thanks for that information.

    • Joe Viocoe

      I would worry about thieves at that point. It is one thing to have to steal a modern car nowadays… but another to pull up with a pickup truck and some power tools.

  • John Floyd

    Solar powered cars? They will be the best option. Especially at the places where sun is not shining lol. 50 miles will not be helpful anyway. Especially if to compare it with Neutrino Inc EV which has a 1250 miles per charge…

  • super390

    The places where these cars can get the most charge are the places where the sun does the most damage to cars parked outside. So durability is a bigger issue than just the cells themselves. If I lived in Arizona I’d want this because I would rarely be able to park in the shade and so I need the car to automatically run its air conditioning before I get in. Southeast Asia, however, can be plenty hot on its many cloudy days.

    It’s unlikely that expensive gallium arsenide cells will pay their way here. Thin-film polymer cells would protect themselves and their car better at the expense of much less energy collection. When better film cells arrive, they will quietly become available as options on future EVs, but offer only incremental increases in range.