BMW’s solar charging carport is elegantly practical

The automotive industry has always operated in a broad spectrum. Speed-craving, boundary-pushing gearheads usually occupy one end, while eco-friendly, gas-saving commuters typically occupy the other. And if we’re honest, that framework probably isn’t going anywhere.

Can we find a balance, a middle ground? BMW thinks so.

When BMW released the i3 last year, we called it a new type of car. It has a carbon fiber and aluminum chassis, a dashboard made out of recycled plants, a zero-emissions electric motor and it goes from 0 to 60 in 7.0 seconds. It’s these types of cars, like the upcoming BMW i8 and the Tesla Model S, that prove that polar bear-friendly vehicles don’t have to be a chore to drive.

So what’s the next step? People may be happy with the cars themselves, but are we really addressing the problem if the energy we pour into our cars still comes from fossil fuels? BMW has a solution for that, too. 

Enter BMW’s i Solar Carport Concept. It’s a poetically simple bamboo and carbon fiber structure that supports a cluster of solar panels, allowing you to skip the trip down to the 76 and let the sun do all the work.

Tom Allemann, of BMW Designworks USA explains, “With the solar carport concept we opted for a holistic approach: not only is the vehicle itself sustainable,” he said, “but so is its energy supply.” 

The carport is meant to be used in conjunction with the BMW i Wallbox Pro, which not only charges the car with solar energy, it can redistribute surplus power back into the customer’s home.

“This is therefore an entirely new generation of carports that allows energy to be produced in a simple and transparent way,” Allemann continued. “It renders the overarching theme of lightweight design both visible and palpable.” 

On top of that, just look at the thing. And who says art can’t be functional?

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