BMW unveils eco-friendly iSolar carport that supplies power to its car

May 09, 2014 by Bob Yirka report

BMW has announced that in conjunction with the introduction of its new i8 hybrid vehicle in Los Angeles, the company will also unveil what is unofficially being called the iSolar carport. A housing for the i8 (and current all electric i3) that in addition to providing cover from harsh sunlight, will also provide electricity to charge the vehicles batteries. The carport was designed and developed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

A carport with solar cells on top solves two problems for car owners, particularly those that live in sunny locales such as southern California. In such places, home garages are rare, as there is very little need for protecting vehicles from weather such as ice, sleet or snow. Instead, homebuilders have added carports, which are essentially garages without walls. Instead, they simply have support beams. Carports are important because they keep sunlight (and hail) off the car while it's parked—sunlight not only heats the interior, but also causes paint to fade, a major problem in places like California, Florida and Arizona which have a lot of sunny days. The iSolar is just such a carport, but it comes with something else—solar collectors on the roof that serve to charge the battery of the car its protecting.

But that's not the end of the story—as part of its mission to become more eco-friendly, BMW has gone to great lengths to ensure that creating the carport doesn't contribute to global warming—its support structure is made out of bamboo. Also, the company has used glass-on-glass solar panels which are more earth friendly because they last up to 30 years—such panels in Europe actually come with a guarantee.

Electricity from the is directed to a wallbox that not only manages the flow of electricity, i.e. directing it to a hose with a nozzle attachment, but shows usage and allows for routing power to the house when the car's battery is fully charged.

If all that isn't enough, the carport is also visually appealing, with a slight resemblance to an insect, the iSolar would almost assuredly draw attention. Unfortunately, it's not clear just yet if BMW will actually make the carport available for sale, and if they do, how much they might charge for it.

Explore further: Ford to unveil solar hybrid concept car at CES

More information: BMW press release

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User comments : 11

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tadchem
3 / 5 (2) May 09, 2014
It doesn't look sturdy enough to support a person performing the routine cleaning required to remove dust and grime with detergents and a squeegee.
_ilbud
1 / 5 (1) May 09, 2014
It's great that phys.org hires disabled writers, just a bit more editing needed.
Lex Talonis
1 / 5 (2) May 10, 2014
It was my idea to produce car ports with solar panels to charge up electric vehicles.

MR166
5 / 5 (1) May 10, 2014
"Electricity from the solar panels is directed to a wallbox that not only manages the flow of electricity, i.e. directing it to a hose with a nozzle attachment,......."

It is nice to see an author that has a full grasp of technical terms.
Dug
not rated yet May 10, 2014
Don't blame just the author for topical technical incompetency here on SP, it's also the editors who are little to no better. This is what you get with generic paid content and next to no professional editing. Wait to they get their garden cables out to wash the car.

Design would benefit as noted above being load bearing, having a maintenance walkway (can't walk on the solar panels) and as well water and hopefully being pigeon/bird poop proof for the expensive car below.
Lex Talonis
not rated yet May 10, 2014
LOL

"Electricity from the solar panels is directed to a wallbox that not only manages the flow of electricity, i.e. directing it to a hose with a nozzle attachment, but shows usage and allows for routing power to the house when the car's battery is fully charged."

LOL

orti
not rated yet May 10, 2014
For a commuter, this thing will have to be installed at work so he can collect during sunlight hours. Assuming the car sets for 12 hours on a perfect southern Cal day with commercial solar cells and 160 sq ft area, he will collect 2.8 kw-hr of energy. To get a 3500 lb car up to 60mph requires 0.22 kw-hr. At 60mph, aerodynamic loss is 6.5hp (8.7 kw-hr/hr) and rolling loss is 4.7hp (6.3 kw-hr/hr). For all this, he can go 10mi assuming direct access to the freeway and no traffic. In other words, this thing best serves as a status symbol for people with more dollars than sense, and this is the non-critical thinking that t passes for journalism at phys.org.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet May 12, 2014
Since this is connected to the house power system the car will be fully charged. The difference between supply and demand will be taken off the grid.
The carport will just add what it can (and will feed into the grid when the car isn't there - which will reduce your power bill).

Effectively this is just an alternative to installing solar panels on your roof. If you're installing a car park in any case it makes sense to use that additional roof space to generate energy.
a_n_k_u_r
not rated yet May 12, 2014
What a lame idea -- solar panels on top of a roof! I expect much more from BMW, at least for their concept cars. Wouldn't it be much better if they could seamlessly integrate solar panels into the car panels (body) itself? That way the car will get charge even if it is not parked under this so called car port.
orti
not rated yet May 12, 2014
Correction: My horsepower numbers above should be 11.7hp and 8.4hp. Else the same.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 12, 2014
It doesn't look sturdy enough to support a person performing the routine cleaning required to remove dust and grime with detergents and a squeegee.
They can do this with drone robots. Or this
http://phys.org/n...nel.html

-which I am sure BMW owners can afford.