It can top up the car's battery while stationary.
An enterprising Tesla owner has built his very own solar panel array that can be mounted on the roof of his Model Y and deployed while stationary.
The project, dubbed DartSolar, is made out of 3D-printed parts and a telescoping carbon fiber tube. According to the builder, the nine 175 watt panels can add 6 kilowatt hours to an EV's battery per day, which is enough to drive roughly 20 miles.
However, at this point, all we can do is take the inventor by his word, and there are several reasons to be skeptical. Having such a large apparatus strapped to your roof could cut into the vehicle's aerodynamic performance, as Electrek points out, which could easily negate any gains.
The bulky and janky-looking solution makes up for a notable absence in solar panel tech when it comes to Tesla's offerings. Other companies, like Aptera, are looking to mass-produce solar-powered cars.
The Elon Musk-led Tesla, in contrast, has repeatedly promised to integrate solar charging features in its cars but has yet to actually do so.
In 2017, Musk pushed to have solar panels integrated into the Model 3, but engineers found it simply wasn't worth it. After Musk hoped to integrate a solar roof in the company's much-hyped Cybertruck, the final truck also didn't end up having such an option when it was made available late last year.
And that's unfortunately for a simple reason.
"It’s a surface area thing," Musk told Joe Rogan during a November podcast episode. "It's about a kilowatt per square meter."
"You don't have enough surface area to keep the car going just from the car's surface area," Musk added at the time. "But if you had something that folded out, you could make it self-sustaining," likening it to SpaceX's Starlink satellites. "You just need more surface area."
Another attempt at solar vehicle power involved a team of scientists driving a Tesla the 9,400 miles around Australia in 2022 — but their 18 rollable panels measured a whopping 59 feet each.
The inventor behind the DartSolar is already looking to come up with a new version, which will be "fully made out of carbon fiber" and almost half as tall, according to a recent Reddit update. "Under version two, I should be able to charge about 50 to 75 miles per day," he wrote.
More on solar Tesla: Tesla Reportedly Canceling Solar Roof Installations Across the Country
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