Remember that incredible foldable solar charging station Volvo built for the V60 Plug-in Hybrid? Well now BMW has got in on the act with a slightly more conventional but equally beautiful solar carport for the i3 and i8 electric cars.
The structure, designed by the visionaries at BMW DesignWorksUSA, uses fast-growing bamboo, carbon fiber reinforced plastic, and steel to support a glass roof containing solar panels. The solar glass-on-glass modules are incredibly robust – almost indestructible, in fact, and are used structurally in skyscrapers – but also translucent, offering shade without completely blocking out the sun.
Power generated from the sun is delivered to the BMW i Wallbox Pro that charges the car. Power from the grid can also be used if time if short, but it’s possible to program the charging station via a seven-inch touchscreen to use only renewable energy. The plug-in hybrid i8 takes two hours to charge at 3.6kWh, according to BMW Blog, while the pure electric i3 takes three hours at 7.4kWh.
BMW says that should the carport generate more energy than is required to charge cars, the surplus can be used to use domestically, powering the lights in a house, for example. The i Wallbox Pro is also intelligent enough to be set up for different user accounts if used by a number of owners, which is useful for billing.
So far BMW hasn’t released any details on the price or the availability of this carport, but when was the last time anything using superficial carbon fiber was ‘affordable’?