Tesla has shown off a new prototype trailer that is apparently designed to extend the range of an EV using in-built solar panels.
It also has a Starlink unit included on the trailer, which could possibly make it the perfect answer to range anxiety in the outback.
Just think: you are a few kilometres away from the next roadhouse. You anticipated you’d have enough range but headwinds and running your EV’s aircon non-stop on a sunny 38 degrees Celcius day meant you chewed through more energy than you had guesstimated you would.
Thanks to your trusty solar-panelled range extender with Starlink connection though, you can instead wait out the day in the sun while the battery gets a boost.
Failing that, you’ve actually got an internet connection so you (if your CB radio- which of course you brought because it’s the outback – is not working for some reason) can contact the local roadhouse for assistance, or dial a friend on Messenger. Or something like that.
Ignoring the fact that the trailer itself will also reduce your range, a post on Twitter sharing images (with permission from Falk Melzer and via Teslarati) of the display drew considerable attention, including 1,026 likes.
According to @Tesla_Adri, the Tesla display at the expo also included a Model Y body with structural 4680 battery pack.
They also said: “Next to the Tesla stand is the VW stand. There are apparently more VW employees at the Tesla stand than Tesla employees.”
Tesla is at the “IdeenExpo” in Hannover.
They brought a solar range extender trailer with Starlink.
And a Model Y with the 4680 structural battery pack.
Next to the Tesla stand is the VW stand. There are apparently more VW employees at the Tesla stand than Tesla employees. pic.twitter.com/8IHxLI5ukW
— Tesla_Adri (@tesla_adri) July 4, 2022
Of course, using solar panels to directly charge an EV is not a new idea. Lightyear has just debuted its first solar car, the Lightyear One, that it says can add up to 70km range a day purely from its integrated panels.
Tesla boss Elon Musk has also mused about adding a solar roof to the rear tray of the Cybertruck electric utility truck. “You possibly put the cover of the truck bed, put some solar cells in there, so you could just leave it out in the sun,” said Musk during an interview with podcaster Joe Rogan..
But, it would really only be enough to generate enough power for 15 or 16 kilometres, he said. He said an electric van would probably make more sense because of its square shape.
“You could have a roof that is solar and when it’s stationary [the awning] goes out and provides shade and triples your area,” Musk said.
“Then you triple your area and you’ve got a big flat surface, maybe you could start having charging enough that you get 30 miles (48km) a day.”
Although Tesla has since patented plans to integrate solar cells into the Cybertruck, it would appear that some form of boxy solar-covered range-extender is still being pondered by the EV maker’s designers.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.