Even in 2017, Elon Musk agreed when he said, ‚ÄúThe least efficient place to put solar is on the car.‚ÄĚ
But in 2019, Elon Musk disagreed and added an (as-yet-unpriced) option to the 2021 Tesla Cybertruck that ‚Äúgenerates 15 miles per day, possibly more‚ÄĚ from solar power. Musk‚Äôs tweet said, ‚ÄúAdding fold out solar wings would generate 30 to 40 miles per day. Avg miles per day in U.S. is 30.‚ÄĚ
At best, one might conclude that the panels add a few miles per day, power a fan and help when camping.
That was before the virus. Now, every socially distanced mile of vehicle range is crucial when making weekly grocery, chocolate, liquor and medical supply runs.
Electrek, not always an unbiased arbiter, believes that the Cybertruck solar option is ‚Äúa game-changer‚ÄĚ and Tesla‚Äôs new ‚Äúkiller app.‚ÄĚ Electrek suggested that Tesla would ‚Äúleverage its experience with the solar roof to introduce it to other cars.‚ÄĚ
Other vehicle builders are toying with the integrated solar car roof.
Last year Hyundai launched a Sonata Hybrid with a solar roof charging system that could provide an extra two miles of range per day.
According to Dutch startup Light Year, the roof and hood of its prototype is made of 50 square-feet of solar cells within safety glass. The company is claiming a range of 450 miles and the ability of its PV array to add 7.5 miles of range per hour when in the sun.
Squad Mobility builds a small solar-powered urban vehicle.
The solar-integrated vehicle roof might make more sense on a motorhome or semitruck. Or Mars.
Barring zombie apocalypse and societal collapse, a home solar array is still the most economical method of charging your car.