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
DartSolar

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

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.

New Model 3 Performance, Racing-Inspired Seats Revealed, a Glimpse of the Front Splitter

By Kevin Armstrong
X/Nic Cruz Patane
X/Nic Cruz Patane

Tesla's reintroduction of the Model 3 Performance continues to inch closer, and just like the refreshed Model 3 and the Cybertruck, every peek gives us some more hints and builds more excitement. A recent observation of a partially covered Tesla Model 3 Performance prototype revealed the new Sport seats designed for improved comfort.

Posted on X by Nic Cruz Patane, the upgraded Model 3 Performance was sighted in Santa Monica, where the vehicle's engineering prototype displayed minimal window tinting, offering a sneak peek at the vehicle's improved seating. The Sport seats, resembling dedicated racing bucket seats, significantly depart from the current Model 3 seating options.

Sport Seats Coming to Other Models?

Tesla's initiative to incorporate Sport seats into the Model 3 Performance hints at broader plans to equip its high-performance models, including the Model S Plaid, Model X Plaid, and Model Y Performance, with similar seating options. This move will elevate the driving experience across Tesla's performance vehicle range.

These seats were also spotted a few weeks ago by enthusiast Fidel Grandez. Initially thought to be designated for the Model S Plaid, these Sport seats have found their rightful place in the Model 3 Performance, aligning with Tesla's vision for a performance-focused yet more affordable electric sedan.

New Wheels and Front Lip

In addition to the seats, the Model 3 Performance is rumored to showcase a suite of enhancements. Another angle gives a little bit of an outline of the new front lower splitter. Other aesthetic and functional upgrades include "Warp" 20-inch wheels, advanced braking systems, and revised suspension components.

Tesla has been testing the Model 3 Performance prototypes for a few months, signaling that initial production could be underway in North America. This step is crucial as Tesla aims to reintroduce the Performance trim to the market, having temporarily removed it from their lineup. The reintroduction is timely, considering the evolving landscape of EV incentives in the United States. While the official launch date remains under wraps, anticipation builds for the Model 3 Performance's debut, expected in the first half of 2024.

Cool Carpool Mom: How Kim Kardashian's Cybertruck Ride Benefits Tesla

By Kevin Armstrong
Instagram/Kim Kardashian
Instagram/Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian showcased her Cybertruck with the caption "cool carpool mom" to her 364 million followers on Instagram. The A-list celebrity and billionaire is well known for her knack for staying at the forefront of trends, making this one image a powerful endorsement for Tesla. The picture of one of the most influential celebrities of our time picking the Cybertruck as her distinctive vehicle speaks volumes about the brand's penetration into popular culture and its appeal to a broad demographic, including those who value style, innovation, and sustainability.

The Power of Celebrity Influence

Kim Kardashian's influence cannot be overstated. Her every move is watched and often emulated by fans around the globe. Her journey from reality TV star to billionaire entrepreneur has been marked by a series of successful ventures in fashion, beauty, and technology investments, making her a model of modern business acumen. Kardashian's ability to turn personal endorsements into significant trends is unparalleled, making her engagement with Tesla's Cybertruck a notable moment for the company.

Kardashian's influence extends far beyond mere product endorsement. Her strategic use of social media to connect with her audience has transformed how brands interact with consumers. She creates a personal connection that can sway consumer behavior by sharing her life, interests, and choices, including her vehicle preferences. Her endorsement of the Cybertruck can significantly enhance Tesla's brand visibility and desirability, particularly among consumers who may not have previously considered an electric vehicle.

Kardashian has recently joined the exclusive circle of celebrities seen driving the Cybertruck, a group that boasts names like Pharrell, Lady Gaga, Jay Leno, and not to forget Elon Musk himself (who, aside from being Tesla's CEO, commands a staggering following of over 370 million on X). Each of these stars wields significant influence, captivating audiences that range from thousands to millions globally.

Sustainability Meets Style

Moreover, Kardashian's endorsement comes at a time when the importance of sustainable living and eco-friendly choices is increasingly recognized. Her choice of an electric vehicle over traditional gasoline-powered cars sends a strong message about the importance of environmental responsibility, aligning with Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. This alignment boosts Tesla's brand and promotes a broader cultural shift towards sustainability.

In the context of celebrity endorsements, Kim Kardashian's showcase of the Tesla Cybertruck is a masterstroke. It merges the worlds of entertainment, technology, and sustainability, highlighting the evolving nature of brand-consumer relationships in the digital age. Tesla's innovative approach to vehicle design and its commitment to sustainability is amplified by Kardashian's endorsement, illustrating the power of celebrity influence in shaping consumer preferences and driving societal trends.

Ultimately, Kardashian driving a Cybertruck and branding herself as a "cool carpool mom" is a significant endorsement for Tesla, enhancing the brand's visibility, appeal, and alignment with sustainable values. In an era where brand success is increasingly tied to social influence and cultural relevance, Tesla's association with Kardashian can only be seen as a positive development, driving the brand further into the mainstream consciousness and reinforcing its position as a leader in the shift towards a more sustainable future.

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