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.

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