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BMW gives the i8 its very own solar carport


May 8, 2014

Designed by Designworks USA, the solar carport was developed to not only be aesthetically interesting but to also compliment the new i8 and i3’s designs traits

Designed by Designworks USA, the solar carport was developed to not only be aesthetically interesting but to also compliment the new i8 and i3’s designs traits

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BMW Group DesignworksUSA has designed a solar carport to house the new i3 and forthcoming i8 electric vehicles. BMW is revealing the one-car solar garage concept as part of the official media launch of the i8 in Los Angeles.

The concept follows previous efforts from the German automotive giant to power its "i" sub-brand using renewable energy. It last year unveiled a similar carport system conceived in partnership with the photovoltaic firm SOLARWATT GmbH.

The latest design features an insect-like frame that makes extensive use of bamboo and like the SOLARWATT system, it features glass-on-glass solar modules on its rooftop.

The system is designed to work in conjunction with BMW’s i Wallbox Pro, enabling owners to charge direct from the solar collector panels and providing a detailed report on the amount of solar going into the system and how that compares against grid consumption. Any excess energy produced by the carport can be fed back into the owner’s residence for domestic use.

BMW's solar carport concept may not be quite as eye-catching as say, the Pure Tension collapsible solar pavilion revealed by Volvo last year, but it does appear to have a better chance of moving beyond concept stage.

The i8 hybrid, when fully charged has a range of approximately 22 miles (37 km) in all-electric mode.

Source: BMW

About the Author
Angus MacKenzie Born on the cold, barren Canadian plains of Calgary, Alberta, Angus MacKenzie couldn’t decide between marketing, automotives or an entrepreneurial path - so he chose all three. With an education in automotives and marketing, Angus has rebuilt the carburetor on his 1963 Rambler Ambassador twice, gotten a speeding ticket in an F430 once, and driven & photographed everything from Lamborghinis to Maseratis to various German and Asian designs. When not writing, Angus has for the past six years been Editor-in-Chief for elemente, an internationally recognized architecture/design magazine. All articles by Angus MacKenzie

This is beautiful, 'bout time somebody got going on this idea.


I think that is really neat and green. I like the idea that the power can be fed back into the house. It is also good since it creates shade for ones car so won't be too hot when it is being charged.


If you are interested in finding out more about this built - contact SK Solar - as we build this prototype for BMW - www.sksolar-usa.com.

SK Solar

Solar PV parking canopies are propping up all over the place, my Colorado town just built two at the swimming pool (a big energy user). Temps on the inside of a car out in the open go to 120 F in 20 minutes and often to 140 F in 40 minutes (higher for dark color roofs). Why not 'milk' the sun rather than fry our vehicles?


Great idea for Arizona. Not sure it's much use in Scotland or Norway in December.


" the solar carport was developed to not only be aesthetically interesting but to also compliment the new i8 and i3’s designs traits"

It isn't sufficiently ugly to compliment the hideous i3, but that's a tough assignment.

The carport looks appropriate for the quirky but still attractive i8, though.


Great for the local environment, terrible for the global environment when factoring in the carbon footprint created in manufacturing panels and batteries alone. Cool idea though. I want one. Just don't kid yourself that electric/hybrid technology is "green." It's just a buzz word to get you to buy.

Walk or ride a bike if you want to be "green."


So that carport will fully charge that car in what, 2 weeks?

"The Tesla Roadster supposedly uses about 210 watt-hours per mile, so 100 miles would require about 21 kWh = 21,000 w-hr."

a fillup is supposed to be 200 miles, so 42 kwh. That looks like about a 20 square meter array, (220 square feet for 'mercians). watts per square meter for the expensive solar cells is 100 watts per square meter. so we get 20 x 100 = 2000 watts, 6 hours of sunlight for non tracking cells, 6 x 2000 = 1,200 wh 21,000 wh / 1,200 wh = 17.5 days. It appears my first quess was optomistic. Actually 2.5 weeks per charge.

This seems to be more hype than science, which is a great way to get a politician to give you free money that could have been used for real science.

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