Solar Project Adds Solar Panels to the Top of a Tesla Model Y, But Will It Work?

By Kevin Armstrong
Solar Array in Action
Solar Array in Action

There is another attempt to create a solar-powered Tesla. DartSolar is pitching a drivable solar array to self-charge your car. Companies are experimenting with this concept, aiming to enhance the sustainability and self-sufficiency of EVs. A solar-powered Tesla would be amazing, no doubt. But it isn’t happening. That is not this writer's opinion, but the guy who may be the biggest fan of both solar and Tesla: Elon Musk.

A New Solar Addition for Tesla

Taking on the challenge is an ambitious company working on the "drivable solar array," currently in beta, designed to self-charge EVs. The company uses a Tesla Model Y test vehicle with nine large solar panels. The website states that “Beta One is light enough to be carried on the roof rack of your EV. It weighs less than 165 lbs. When expanded, it fits in a standard parking spot.”

Beta One features flexible solar panels without junction boxes, allowing for flat shipping and simple assembly into four sections. Projected to be priced at $4,000 USD and using nine 175-watt panels, Beta One claims to generate 6 kWh daily, providing about 20 miles (32 kilometers) of EV range with five hours of sunlight.

Payback on Investment

The amount of energy generated and range gained on an EV with these panels will obviously vary depending on the location, weather, and the vehicle, but how long would it take to recoup the initial investment? Without taking into account any range decrease due to the reduced aerodynamics and increased weight, owners would be looking at about $0.97 USD in daily savings (based on 16.21 cents per kWh average in the U.S.) when using these solar panels.

Before you even take into account the look of the vehicle, the added maintenance, and potential issues, owners would be looking at more than 11 years before making back their initial investment of $4,000.

That’s not to say this project doesn’t have its benefits and use cases. If you’re in a remote location with little access to electricity, this could be an interesting idea, however, it’s not going to make sense for most consumers. Solar requires a lot of space and right now it just makes more sense on a large open area instead of being strapped to the top of a moving vehicle. However, projects such as these continue to push innovation and outside-of-the-box thinking.

Teslas are popular vehicles for solar experiments as we’ve seen before with extendable range extenders.

Elon Musk's Perspective on Solar EVs

Musk recently posted on X: "Earth already receives about the same energy from the Sun in an hour than humanity consumes in a year. Solar panels just need to catch a tiny amount of it to power our entire civilization!" Despite acknowledging the immense potential of solar energy, Musk remains doubtful about its application in EVs due to limited surface area. In this video clip, he gives a simple explanation for his 2021 appearance with Joe Rogan.

Aptera's Solar Electric Vehicle: A Case Study

Aptera Motors continues to face the challenge of creating a solar-powered vehicle. The San Diego start-up has been raising funds for a few years to produce its unique, three-wheel sun-powered car. This vehicle can travel up to 1,000 miles on a single charge, up to 40 miles powered solely by solar energy.

Aptera's Solar Powered Car
Aptera's Solar Powered Car

Aptera's vehicle is aerodynamically optimized and built with lightweight materials. Its unique shape and solar panel integration set it apart from traditional EVs, showcasing the potential of solar energy in transportation.

The integration of solar energy with EVs represents a frontier in sustainable transportation. While challenges such as surface area limitations exist, innovations like DartSolar’s Beta One and Aptera's solar electric vehicle may pave the way for a sunny and greener future.

Tesla Introduces Most Affordable Car: Long Range RWD Model 3 with 363-Mile Range for $34,990

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla has brought back the Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive variant, which starts at $42,490. However, due to the batteries in the Long Range model, it qualifies for the $7,500 federal EV rebate. This makes this new model the cheapest model in Tesla’s lineup after the federal rebate that comes off at the point of sale.

After the federal rebate, this model is $34,990, exactly $4,000 less than the standard RWD model with the smaller LFP battery.

Improved Range

The Long Range RWD variant boasts a range of 363mi (vs 341mi for the AWD, and 272mi for the regular RWD), and a 0-60mph of 4.9sec (vs 4.2sec for the AWD). This makes the new Long Range RWD Model 3 Tesla’s longest-range economic vehicle (Model 3 / Model Y). The Model S AWD boasts an impressive 402-mile EPA estimate.

Other than the lack of a front motor for handling in rough or slippery terrain, or having a faster 0-60, the Long Range RWD is a fantastic option for most people.

It’s worth noting that only the Long Range AWD model can unlock Tesla’s Acceleration Boost, which increases power and reduces the vehicle’s 0-60 times by about half a second.



Price After Rebate

0-60 MPH


Model 3 RWD





Model 3 LR RWD





Model 3 LR AWD





Model 3 Performance






For now, the Model 3 Long Range RWD model is only available in the United States, with no availability in Canada.

Tesla FSD V12.5 to Combine City and Highway Stacks, Introduce Vehicle-to-Fleet Communication and More

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

As FSD V12.4.3 continues to get released to more vehicles, Elon Musk has posted that FSD V12.5 is already in testing and will include several key features.

The improvements in v12.5 are supposed to focus on rarer, more complex situations and vehicle-to-fleet communication. Tesla’s Autopilot lead, Ashok Elluswamy, also mentioned that FSD would gain the ability to go in reverse around this time.

Merge City & Highway Stacks

FSD v12 has been a multi-stack setup so far, with a city-streets stack that is end-to-end, and an older highway stack that was carried over from v11. FSD v12.5 will once again merge the city/highway stacks according to Musk, who confirmed the feature yesterday. That means that there will no longer be an implicit highway stack.

This could cause some regressions during highway driving, similar to the ones we experienced when Tesla first merged highway and city stacks back in FSD v11. Ultimately, when the issues were ironed out, we ended up with a smoother and better Autopilot experience on the highway. When FSD v12.5 rolls around, we may see some similar issues but expect FSD v12.5 to do to highways what v12 did for city driving.

Vehicle-to-Fleet Communications

Tesla’s FSD relies heavily upon maps, with the mapping information designating routing and lane changes. When vehicles encounter difficulties, they are unable to communicate that back to the rest of the fleet. This results in every vehicle encountering the same problem. With FSD V12.5, vehicles will be able to communicate road closures or other obstacles back to the rest of the fleet in real-time. This will turn FSD into software that’s constantly improving as the fleet gathers more data, instead of having to wait for a software update.

Cybertruck Finally Gets FSD

In a recent post on X, Musk also confirmed that V12.5 will finally bring FSD to the Cybertruck. Currently, all Cybertrucks only have access to Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC). Autopilot and FSD capabilities should arrive alongside all the other features.

Actually Smart Summon

Musk has talked quite a bit about Actually Smart Summon. With FSD 12.5, the new vision-based summon may finally be released. This will introduce Smart Summon capabilities to vision-only cars for the first time. However, it’s expected to be a drastic improvement for all vehicles in similar ways to the new Autopark. The new summon has been tied to the ability to move the vehicle in reverse by Tesla’s Autopilot lead, so expect either both of them to arrive in FSD 12.5, or be held off for a later release.

Release Date

Musk originally mentioned that FSD V12.5 would be released in late June, however, there were several delays with FSD 12.4 and that time frame has now come and gone. FSD 12.4 was initially released in May 2024, but it went through several lengthy revisions before it was introduced to public testers. Going by that time frame, it appears that FSD 12.5 was expected to be released about 4-6 weeks after FSD 12.4. If FSD 12.4.3 is finally got a good spot, we could see FSD 12.5 become available in the next 4-6 weeks or about late August.

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