• Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Image Credit: BMW
With the first deliveries of the i3 under way, and the recent i8 press launch, the marketing push in the US for the BMW electric sub-brand has begun. These i vehicles are supposed to have a completely different feel from the rest of the brand's lineup. To complement their earth-friendly ethos, the Bavarian company commissioned BMW Group DesignworksUSA in California to create a solar carport concept that could keep the models sustainably topped up on power. It premiered alongside the i8 in Los Angeles at the electric sports coupe's media launch.

At first glance, the BMW i Solar Carport Concept looks like a pergola from a winery or a well-groomed garden, but like the i vehicles, the deeper you look, the more high-tech features there are. The sides feature carbon elements in a similar way that the i3 and i8 have a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body. Bamboo forms the uprights because its quick-growing nature makes it rather sustainable, and the solar panels are strung along the top to harness energy.

Obviously the sun can't provide all of the energy that the electric cars need, and a BMW Wallbox Pro charger is also connected to the power grid as a supplement. It includes a readout telling users the amount of solar energy versus municipal electricity it's using.

The carport is just a concept for now, but it shows off the image that BMW wants for these new models. They are supposed to be green, premium vehicles with modern, eco-friendly design. Scroll down to get the full details about the solar carport in the release.
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In tune with nature – and with the BMW i design idiom: BMW Group DesignworksUSA develops a solar carport concept.

Premium product for private solar-powered electricity generation – Green energy supply gives a further boost to vehicle life cycle assessment – Another building block in the holistic sustainability concept – World premiere to mark the BMW i8 presentation in Los Angeles.

Munich. With the all-electric BMW i3 already on the market and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car poised for its own launch, the BMW Group portfolio boasts the world's first premium automobiles purpose-designed for zero- emission mobility.

The international media launch of the BMW i8 in Los Angeles will include the presentation of a solar carport concept developed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA for the use of renewable energy. It combines high-grade technology for generating electricity from solar power with an innovative design that perfectly complements the BMW i models.

In its choice of materials, design and colour, the DesignworksUSA carport concept takes its cue from the characteristic styling of the BMW i models to form a harmonious counterpart. The holistic sustainability concept is underlined by the materials used in the construction of the carport and by its solar modules. In addition to the carbon elements on the side of the carport, the principal material used is bamboo in the form of struts. Thanks to its rapid growth, bamboo is considered a particularly sustainable raw material. For the generation of electricity, high-grade glass-on-glass solar modules are used. These are translucent and very durable, as well as generating a high energy yield. For the panels used in Europe, the manufacturer offers a 30-year guarantee.

The solar carport not only guarantees the supply of green power but furthermore allows for energy self-sufficiency, so that customers remain independent of electricity prices. In conjunction with the BMW i Wallbox Pro, the car can be specifically charged with solar electricity from the carport. The Wallbox also indicates the amount of solar energy that goes into the car and provides an analysis of recent charging processes which shows the respective proportions of solar and grid power. If the solar panels provide energy beyond the requirements of the vehicle, this surplus solar power can be put to domestic use.

Generating private electricity with the aid of solar collectors and feeding this CO2-free energy via the BMW i Wallbox into the vehicle's high-voltage battery further optimises of the life cycle assessment of the BMW i models. Regularly hooking up the high-voltage battery to the Wallbox connected to the solar carport enables a high degree of CO2-neutral usage of the BMW i8. With a fully charged high-voltage battery, the plug-in hybrid sports car has a range of around 37 kilometres (22 miles) in all-electric mode.

During development of the solar carport concept by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, the spotlight was firmly on the harmonious interplay between vehicle design and architecture. The glass-on-glass solar modules of the carport are supported by exclusively designed bamboo and carbon elements that authentically reflect the hallmark lines and surface sculpting of the BMW i automobiles. "With the solar carport concept we opted for a holistic approach: not only is the vehicle itself sustainable, but so is its energy supply," explains Tom Allemann, who is responsible for the carport design at BMW Group DesignworksUSA. "This is therefore an entirely new generation of carports that allows energy to be produced in a simple and transparent way. It renders the overarching theme of lightweight design both visible and palpable." The BMW Group subsidiary headquartered in California runs an international design studio network in Europe, Asia and America. As an impulse-generator in the fields of design and innovation, the company works for the BMW Group brands as well as for numerous other high-profile international clients spanning a range of industrial sectors.

The BMW Group
The BMW Group is the leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles in the world with its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 28 production and assembly facilities in 13 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

In 2013, the BMW Group sold around 1.963 million cars and 115,215 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax for the financial year 2012 was euro 7.82 billion on revenues amounting to euro 76.85 billion. At 31 December 2012, the BMW Group had a workforce of 105,876 employees.

The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.

www.bmwgroup.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BMWGroup
Twitter: http://twitter.com/BMWGroup
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/BMWGroupview
Google+: http://googleplus.bmwgroup.com



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Pretty, but.. -Why not build some latitude slope to it to optimize collection? -Do you really want to maintain all of that wood varnish outdoors?
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        No need for it to be varnished, either. Simple stain or oiling would look just as good. Depends on the particular environment you're building in, of course.
        Jamie Houk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        If a marine type spar urethane is used there would be very little maintenance.
          Tweaker
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jamie Houk
          Spar varnish doesn't last a year in my environment. No hard finish will.
        knightrider_6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        BMW will probably use laminates instead of real wood, just like they use vinyl instead of real leather.
      JB
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is much better than trying to integrate the solar into the roof of the car.
      Ducman69
      • 1 Year Ago
      Takes up way too much space and is in no way economically viable to implement on any scale that would have any impact on the environment whatsoever. This will be great for rich 1%ers that produce hundreds of times the waste and consumption of your average developing nation person riding a moped to work, pretending like his rich ass lifestyle is good for the environment.
        Moreno636
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ducman69
        How incredibly short sighted of you. Technology trickles down, in order to expand this type of tech to the masses a lot resources ie: MONEY are needed. The rich who buy stuff like this for whatever reason they choose are directly funding then delineation of this tech to the 99%. Other than that your posts reeks of jealousy and self loathing.
        ElectricAvenue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ducman69
        See above. I could be wrong, but if that's about 30 square metres of panels, you'd generate 3,000 kWh/year even in a place not known for being sunny (Germany was brought up as the example), which would be enough to propel a Model S (and thus definitely an i3) about 15,00 km (nearly 10,000 miles) per year. No impact on the environment whatsoever, eh?
      Bernard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, this is almost as cool and useful as Tesla's supercharger network... Not! :-P
      danfred311
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would prefer a design that would work in reality as well, instead of taking up 1.7x as much space. Single thing poles front and back with normal car spacing and combined roof so no door opening is obstructed. Of course it's just a marketing gimmick. A lie
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      It looks like IKEA furniture - cheap and bland. But since it is made by BMW it will cost 10 times more and need constant repairs.
      Lachmund
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really love BMW for pushing design in the more futuristic way...Can't remember when I ever said that about BMW before.
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      BMW seems to be trying way too hard to make their electric offerings look futuristic.
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        I really appreciate it. Opinions I guess
          Bernard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lachmund
          @Jon BMW just doesn't get it, Elon Musk is the Steve Jobs of electric cars. BMW doesn't have anyone in their company with vision like. People of such talent are incredibly rare.
          Lachmund
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lachmund
          Yeah Jon, you definately got a point there. Though my comment was more targeted to the fact that I'm a huge sci-fi fan and therefore a huge sucker for futuristic design
          Jon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lachmund
          @Bernard I think it more speaks to a willful desire by the mainstream auto manufacturers to keep alt fuel vehicles as a niche product. They don't really want to displace customers of their main product with disruptive competing technology. Not yet at least.
          Jon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lachmund
          The problem is these auto manufacturers keep trying to make electric cars appeal only to a certain kind of customer. They keep selling them as cars for tree huggers, rather than just selling them as great cars for anyone. Just give us a normal looking (albeit attractive) electric car. I want an electric car, not a space ship.
      dadslife83
      • 1 Year Ago
      Whoa, hold the phone! BMW brings out a "concept" of something that has already been done before. And you guys go nuts with compliments? Maybe I should go over to our local high school and take photos of their solar panels that covers the entire parking lot! If it scan survive high schoolers and summer break does it really need bamboo?
      FREEPAT75014
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice try. Still what is missing for me here, as on previous concepts in the same interesting direction, is a local electricity storage capacity "option" within the grounded carport device itself, greater than the EV car capacity needed for today and tomorrow daily local commutes (Say >30KWH, both for PHEVs and BEVs, so it can last for many years). That could locally store all the Sun generated electricity during the day, when the car is with its owner at work, away from home. Then could fast-recharge the car battery locally, when the car comes back home in the evening, releasing huge electricity demand at most problematic peak hours for the grid. Plus that local storage could even be used to feed the home itself at same peak demand times in the evening and during the night, if there was more electricity stored during the day than what is required for the car next day local commutes.... Helping the grid further when it needs it the most. Setting just another "un-buffered" solar capacity directly attached to the grid, and that will just feed to the grid its solar generated energy at un-competitive cost vs Nuclear CO2-free power (Gap being sponsored by tax payers), when the grid can only "waste it almost entirely" today, at the end of the morning and in the afternoon (lowest consumption hours, when grid is already in excess supply) is a bit short thinking in my view. Plus if the car then gets charged by the grid when it returns at home in the evening and the grid is already at peak demand, it will make the grid suffer even more, as more EVs will be added. ... This said, one could argue that if during the same daily time when sun is shining, the user car could be connected to the grid and recharge at user work location a few miles away from his home, instead of when he returns home in the evening, using only one battery in the car in that case, instead of one in the car plus one at home, Grid could still get a tangible benefit at a cheaper cost, ******* less Lithium storage per car. The car battery could then just consume remotely the same amount of Sun generated electricity at the same low consumption time it is generated, preventing it to be wasted as today. In both cases it's clear to me that adding energy storage capacities to the grid, either outside of it within the EV cars and/or within Sun production locations to make them become reliable electricity sources supplying energy when the grid needs it, or mutialized within the grid itself, will be required to get more value from current renewable energies and especially the Sun.
      kontroll
      • 1 Year Ago
      yeah that would work wonderfully in germany where there are 10 sunny days in a year...Sehr gut BMW
        ElectricAvenue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @kontroll
        While obviously not as sunny as somewhere like California, Germany does get a fair bit of solar energy. Better than 1000 kWh/year / m^2 according to http://solargis.info/doc/_pics/freemaps/1000px/ghi/SolarGIS-Solar-map-Europe-en.png That canopy looks to be on the order of 5 by 6 metres, or 30 m^2. Thus more than 30,000 kWh / year. That's enough energy to propel a Model S about 150,000 km (nearly 100,000 miles). So who was it saying that this would have no impact on the environment? You'd be generating more energy than you use, net.
          ElectricAvenue
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ElectricAvenue
          Doh! Yes, this seemed a bit large to me. That's solar irradiation total, not PV panel output. Assume about 20% efficiency, so divide those numbers by 5. Still significant: 6000 kWh = about 30,000 km (nearly 20,000 miles) per year for a large car like a Model S, probably further for an i3.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Funky looking and functional. I like it.
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