BMW’s Solar Carport Concept Charges EVs While Shading Them

The Los Angeles media launch of the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid in was the perfect opportunity for the German automaker to showcase its solar carport concept, a solution that provides shade to cars while charging them.

While hardly a revolutionary idea, BMW’s solar carport concept demonstrates how electric vehicles should be treated. That is, if you happen to live in a sunny part of the world, or at least in one that has sunny days most part of the year.

Tom Allemeier, carport designer at BMW Group DesignworksUSA, stated that “With the solar carport concept we opted for a holistic approach: not only is the vehicle itself sustainable, but so is its energy supply.”

The frame of the carport is made of bamboo, which is considered by “particularly sustainable raw material.” In my humble opinion, though, BMW’s approach is a sad joke compared to Volvo’s Pure Tension Pavilion, a really futuristic way of charging solar cars.

The solar carport created by BMW will be compatible with the iWallBox Pro, the automaker’s home-charging solution for its electric vehicles.

Speaking of BMW’s EVs, the i3 all-electric car costs $41,350 and comes with a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery that should keep the car running for 80 to 100 miles. The plug-in hybrid i8, on the other hand, is a tad more expensive, at $135,925. For that price, you can ride 22 miles in all-electric mode. I would pick a Tesla Model S anytime of the day instead of the BMW i8, especially since the 85kW Model S has a range of 400 miles. I guess that the two companies have different audiences for their products, otherwise the German carmaker wouldn’t have even starter to develop electric vehicles. As the Community’s Pierce Hawthorne would put it, Tesla’s EVs are streets ahead. Quite literally!

Allemeier expressed his enthusiasm regarding this concept, even though there is still a lot of room for improvements here: “This is therefore an entirely new generation of carports that allows energy to be produced in a simple and transparent way. It renders the overarching theme of lightweight design both visible and palpable.”

Given the lack of originality, I would be less enthusiastic about this new generation carport, but I guess that every carmaker out there needs to provide its own solution along with the vehicles it develops.

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