Yesterday (May 7) BMW unveiled its newest piece of sustainable equipment, a sleek, carbon-fiber and bamboo, glass-on-glass solar canopy charger for its new i3 and i8 line of electric vehicles. The device joins a growing number of solar canopies designed to charge up EVs and plug-in hybrids, like BMW’s i8. The solar canopy was unveiled in Los Angeles at the media launch of the i8.
BMW isn’t the first car company to come out with concepts for solar-powered EV chargers. For years, GM has partnered with a company to produce “solar trees” to power the Chevy Volt. Volvo introduced a stunningly beautiful EV solar charger concept last year, the looks like a butterfly wing or flower petal and Tesla has introduced its solar Supercharger stations to power its Model S—for free—at a growing number of stations through California into Las Vegas and along the mid-Atlantic coast.
Earlier this year Ford introduced one of the most intriguing concepts with a concentrating PV array that would actually track the sun with the vehicle’s movement throughout the day. But BMW is BMW and it’s known for its engineering and prowess.
“With the solar carport concept we opted for a holistic approach: not only is the vehicle itself sustainable, but so is its energy supply,” explains Tom Allemann, who is responsible for the carport design at BMW Group DesignworksUSA. “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.”
The new design by BMW Group DesignworksUSA is refined for the BMW aesthetic. “The DesignworksUSA carport concept takes its cue from the characteristic styling of the BMW i models to form a harmonious counterpart,” the company said in a release. The device will also integrate with BMW’s Wallbox Pro charger for EV cars, which can also put excess energy produced by the carport back into the house or building its located near or into the grid.