As electric vehicles become more efficient, many are starting to think about the potential of adding solar panels to EVs to extend the range. Companies like Aptera, Sono and Lightyear have had some success with projects involving super-efficient vehicles using embedded solar cells.
But when it comes to full-size electric vehicles, it hasn’t been as popular since solar power doesn’t add much range due to the lower efficiency.
However, many EV owners have been thinking about adding deployable solar panels as portable independent charging solutions that could extend the range of their electric vehicles – sometimes in the form of a trailer. At the IdeenExpo in Hannover, Germany, this week, Tesla surprised attendees by unveiling a system that equips a trailer with deployable solar panels:
Tesla also brought a Model Y cutout, showing off its new structural battery pack with 4680 battery cells, for its booth at the exposition, but the new solar range extender is the more novel product.
The solar range extender trailer is also equipped with a Starlink satellite internet receiver from SpaceX. Starlink recently updated its system to enable using its terminal to get internet in moving vehicles.
It’s not clear why Tesla built the trailer and unveiled it at the show, but the automaker is not expected to sell it to the public any time soon. If those are all 300W panels (and they look a little small for that), then the optimum output would be 2.7kW. That means it would generate less than 50 miles of range a day extended or a third of that folded up.
It appears to be more of an attraction for the exposition – something that Tesla rarely participates in other than as a recruiting effort.
Would you be interested in Tesla selling this solar range extender trailer to consumers? If so, let us know what kind of application you think it would be useful for. Let us know in the comment section.
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