Solar applications for future vehicles


Solar energy roofs can make a significant contribution towards charging the battery of electrically-powered vehicles. According to our calculations, around one square meters of solar cells produce enough energy for an annual driving distance of around 1,000 kilometers.


Solar Sunroof

When the sun cools. Webasto has developed and produced solar sunroofs for over 20 years. The principle: solar modules integrated in the sunroof generate electrical energy. Until now this electricity has been used solely for the auxiliary ventilation of vehicles, lowering the temperature inside the vehicle by up to 20 degrees Celsius. A normal sunroof measures around 0.3 square meters and is large enough to generate sufficient electricity.

Solar energy for 1,000 kilometers per year. However, solar cells in vehicles offer other possible uses for the future beyond auxiliary ventilation; for example they could be installed on the entire area of the roof. An estate car, SUV, or van provides up to two square meters of roof area. The additionally generated electricity could then be stored in the vehicle’s electrical system or used to charge the battery. The use of solar energy roofs is also of interest for electric vehicles. The electricity they generate could be stored in lithium ion batteries. According to our calculations, a solar roof of one square meter would supply enough energy to run a vehicle solely on electricity for around 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) per year. Our calculations are based on the average hours of sunshine in Europe.

Four grams less carbon dioxide. The combination of a hybrid drive with a large solar energy roof is also very interesting, because the batteries of hybrid vehicles have a much higher capacity than conventional lead acid batteries. Therefore the solar electricity, which is produced while a vehicle is standing under an open sky, can be stored over several hours in the drive battery. Since the combustion engine of such a vehicle does not have to run as often, thanks to the help of the sun, up to four grams less carbon dioxide are produced per kilometer.