Behind Hanergy SolarPower car: How it was made?
The first “National Public Entrepreneurial Innovation Week” was held in Beijing. During such event, Hanergy’s solar power car attracted a lot of attention. Hanergy is called “the world’s largest thin-film solar enterprise”. I think investors would know them more than me. So I’m not going to talk about “money”, but about technology and production.
Solar power car？
Hanergy exhibited a whole-solar-powered car called “Hanergy SolarPower”. It is a conceptual car. It will finalized the future direction of Hanergy’s future solar power cars.
According to Hanergy’s official description, the car has two electric motors to transmit the power to the rear axle, with an endurance of 300km. Its integrated power output can up to 160kW with peak torque of 400Nm, and a hundred kilometers acceleration time of 5.8 seconds. The top speed in case of electronic limitation can up to 200km/hr. It combined also with lightweight technology to optimize the maxim usage of solar energy. Besides, it also has autopilot service.
After entering in the autopilot mode, the seat can be rotated, so the front and rear passengers will be able to chat face to face. Regarding the autopilot, the Project Director of Hanergy Product Development Group SUN Ning said they have already been in contact with Baidu.
There are thin-film GaAs solar chips on the front part, top and tail of the car. The maxim effective area can reach 6m2.
According to Hanergy’s official data, the conversion efficiency of such solar chips can be up to 30.8%. This might be the only enter point for Hanergy’s access in vehicle manufacturing.
Hanergy said that under ideal lighting conditions, with 5 hours/day irradiation, can increase 50km of endurance. About the solar energy conversion efficiency, I still have something to say, because we discussed before the “solar+car” ‘s maxim effective area is 6m2. The solar power density under standard light intensity is 1000watts/m2, the conversion efficiency is 30.8%, so we can calculate that under ideal lighting conditions, the solar power density can reach 1.848kw. With 5hours/day irradiation (under ideal lighting condition), it can produce 9.24kWh electricity. The actual battery consumption would be certainly less than 9.24kWh because there are also losses during transmission. Usually electric car consumes about 10kWh (Tesla may be more than 20kWh, it depends on vehicle and driving habits), so the “50km” is reliable.
Of course, the major premise of “reliable” is the “ideal lighting conditions”. And the solar power generation requires also appropriate ambient. Underground parking, cloudy, fog, or haze would not help to generate electricity. If you want more solar sourced power, you should put your car under the sun.
But the good news is that the technology keeps developing. According to purely theoretical calculations, the conversion efficiency of solar energy can be up to 64, now some research teams can improve it to more than 40%.
How Hanergy plan to make it?
What makes me confused is not the car itself, but how a photovoltaic power generation company to do this “cross-border challenge”. Technologically speaking, Hanergy is able to solve the solar power generation part of the car, but it is still very far away from the automotive production.
Regarding the production problem, I interviewed Hanergy’s vehicle project responsible Dr. GAO Weimin, he is now CEO of Hanergy Solar Power Automotive Technology Ltd. He worked before at Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation and Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation, and has 30 years of industry. He joint Hanergy in March this year.
He said, Hanergy should have its own factories, but with an “open business model. Traditional vehicle development philosophy is to let OEMs to set the rules, then look for suppliers, which will not be Hanergy’s plan. Hanergy’s “open” can be interpreted in 2 terms, one is product, the other one is the capital.
For the car as a product, an “open business model” is to show the “concept” and let the relevant manufactures to design. For example, cell phone manufacturers will possibly design the multimedia systems. This is somehow like “cooperation”. Secondly, on the capital level. Making cars is very expensive, which might lead companies to years of investment with no profit. They need the support from Government, or investments from other parties.
In my personal opinion, “open” is the main difference of these newcomers with traditional OEMs, especially on the capital level.
Hanergy is building its automotive project team. Currently the team is still small. They plan to recruit the elite in each field and then contact the appropriate suppliers and partners to cooperate.
In February this year, Chairman of the Board of Hanergy LI Hejun said at the press conference: “Hanergy will launch a number of whole-solar-powered cars in cooperation with a number of agencies in October this year.” However, considering the current situation, Hanergy’s forecast was too optimistic.
For the schedule, Hanergy revealed that the car volume production should wait 3 years. Next year, Hanergy will launch some “drivable” samples during the Beijing Auto Show, aimed at different market segments.