Elon Musk Is Bringing Solar Power To The Model 3 But Not How You Think


Why build a bigger battery when you can find a way to use less of its energy?

Elon Musk is trying to merge SolarCity with Tesla. Unless you own stock in either company or are an obsessed fan of Musk's you probably didn’t know that. But the potential merger between the two eco-friendly businesses could bring about a massive change in the auto industry, at least if all goes to plan. Business Insider was on a conference call regarding the financial details of the merger, and during it Musk let slip that the automaker is trying to find a way to bring the recently announced Tesla solar roof to its cars, specifically the Model 3.

The solar roof is made up of glass tiles with photovoltaic cells subtly integrated inside. The roof of the Model 3 is glass, which means the inclusion of the panels wouldn’t be a big deal from a design standpoint. Even from an engineering standpoint it seems like the integration would be easy, with Tesla’s chief seeming to suggest that was the plan all along. It is using a lot of techniques from the automotive glass business and, in case it wasn't obvious with the announcement, Tesla has created a glass technology group with some really phenomenal people," Musk announced on the call. Whether these panels would be able to power the Model 3’s battery is unknown.

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What we do know, courtesy of an Elon Musk tweet, is that they could melt snow. When asked on Twitter if melting snow on the car’s rooftop would be too energy intensive, Musk responded that despite expending energy in the act the end result would be “strongly net positive.” For what it’s worth, we don’t think the technology—even Tesla’s—is there just yet. What seems more likely is that these glass solar panels are used to take the pressure off the Model 3’s battery. Imagine if things like the defroster and air conditioning were powered by the sun. That would give the EV a longer range as its battery would have less things to power. Pretty smart way to increase your car's range without coming up with revolutionary battery tech, Tesla.

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