To protect against dust, bird droppings, and miscellaneous scratches, many car owners choose to purchase car covers to wrap their precious vehicles up after parked. This demand has been picked up by a French solar company and an electric car startup, who have researched and developed a solar car cover that can be integrated to the electric car to not only protect the vehicle, but also charge it at the same time.
Armor, a French solar company, focuses on thin-film solar technology ASCA. Compared to existing rigid and cumbersome crystalline silicon solar panels, Armor is able to print organic semiconductors on flexible thin films, which infuses softness and elasticity into solar panels that can be installed on equipment of various shapes.
In addition, ASCA’s excellent tear resistance allows it to be rolled and spread for 50K times with no impact on the function. In comparison with crystalline silicon solar panels that are averaging 20kg for every 1.6 square meters, the weight of ASCA for every square meter is merely 450g, hence the material has been further produced into a solar car cover by Armor. The company also joined forces with GazelleTech, an electric car startup, to launch a concept electric car that goes hand in hand with the solar car cover, which opens and lays out on top of the vehicle, just by pressing a button. The concept car will be exhibited at the International Automobile Festival this year.
The solar panel on top of the car cover is measured at 4 square meters, and 8 hours of sun exposure will increase 15km of driving distance, for which Armor has expressed that hopefully will be increased to 48km within the next 3 years. The installation of the solar car cover will reduce the carbon emission of the electric car, commented spokesperson Moïra Asses.
Nonetheless, solar car covers are not for everyone, since it is not required by all car owners, especially those who have their own car parks or garages, who would see little to no use for such product. Armor has not disclosed too much details regarding the lifespan of the solar car cover, as well as the cleaning, maintenance, and replacement methods for the product, though one thing is for certain, and that is this car cover surpasses existing non-woven car covers in terms of UV resistance.
Many automobile manufacturers have successively transformed the roof of their electric cars to solar panels, including Cybertruck of Tesla and Sonata Hybrid of Hyundai, in order to reduce carbon emission and enhance driving distance, though they may not be installed by car owners due to aesthetic reasons, and that is where the advantage sits for the solar cover designed by Armor and GazelleTech, since the product is retractable.
(Cover photo source: Armor）