Going green has been one of the major concerns of auto manufacturers for the past decade and a half. The introduction of electric vehicles was the best solution. But consumers are concerned that the electricity to charge these vehicles is still coming from fuel-burning power plants. Enter solar energy!
Solar-powered cars have been under the focus of many tech companies for the past few years. They’re an economical solution to the problem. Plus they solve another big challenge for electric vehicles; range anxiety. This is the fear of running out of power before you reach a charging station. Solar-powered cars enable drivers to get over this anxiety by generating electricity on the go.
Consumers have a lot of expectations from Tesla, with it being the biggest name in the EV space right now. Tesla already sells their own solar panels, but will we ever see a Tesla Solar Car?
Is it Practical?
Adding solar cells on the roof of a vehicle isn’t all that difficult for auto manufacturers. Many have already done so. Still, none of them have been cost-efficient or practical for on-road driving. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has an optional solar roof version that everybody had high hopes for. For $8,000, you could add up to two miles to your range per day. For a vehicle that already does 600 miles, just another two doesn’t seem that useful.
You still can’t buy a Tesla with a solar roof, but let’s look at this guy who took matters into his own hands!
Solar Roof for Tesla
In March 2021, Tesla enthusiast “The Tech of Tech” uploaded a video on YouTube showing how he added a solar roof to his Tesla Model 3. He didn’t permanently attach the solar power system to the roof but only laid it on top. Again, not a practical solution for charging while driving. Yet it shows that it can be done.
The video goes on to highlight another major problem with a Tesla solar car. The system showed 1400 watts of output but only 25 watts of input charging the vehicle. The reason was the shade on the roof. It only further highlights the impracticality of such a concept.
Solar panel systems in houses need to be positioned on the south-facing side and on a 30-degree angle. On a vehicle roof, none of this is possible. You can’t avoid shade throughout the day or position your Tesla at the right angle in every parking space.
Have a look at the video here yourself!
EV Solar Kits
A startup named EV Solar Kits has stepped in and offered an innovative upgrade package for Tesla vehicles. Their solar kits have been specifically tapered for Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. The solar array can be packed into the trunk of the vehicles when not in use and come with an inverter and a small battery.
“Our solar charging kits can end range anxiety by providing up to 150 miles of range over two days,” says co-founder Steele Wasik. This Tesla solar system does seem like a better solution than the rest but we’ll have to wait for it to reach the market to see how practical it is. The startup still hasn’t installed any of its kits in a single customer’s Tesla and is still beta testing it.
So will we ever get to see a Tesla solar car?
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has always shown interest in offering a solar-powered option for Tesla vehicles. In 2016, he said they would “probably” offer a retractable solar roof for the Model 3.
There haven’t been any new updates from Tesla recently, so consumers are still left with Musk’s ambiguous position.
What are your thoughts on solar-powered EVs and Tesla solar cars? Let us know in the comments below!