Tesla’s Model 3 to utilise solar roof technology

Tesla's recent foray into the solar market looks set to pay dividends for its highly anticipated Model 3, after the company's chief executive Elon Musk revealed that the recently launched solar roof panels would feature in some form on the new vehicle.

It’s only been a few days since Tesla and SolarCity unveiled the new solar roof prototypes, but already Musk is planning on using the glass technology to boost performance for the Model 3 – potentially creating a renewably-powered solution to defrosting car windscreens during winter.

Speaking during a conference call on Tuesday (1 November), Musk said: “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 phenomenol people.”

The call was focused on the financial details of Tesla’s merger with SolarCity, and Musk didn’t reveal much else in regards to the glass technology and the Model 3, which is expected to go on sale in 2017.

However, when quizzed via Twitter as to how energy intensive the glass technology would be when using stored solar heat to melt frost and snow, Musk claimed that the whole process would be “strongly net positive”.

Master plan

The rollout of the solar roof is expected to commence next summer, but Musk has warned that commercialisation would be “unwieldy” if Tesla hadn’t successfully combined with sister company solar city by then. A vote on the acquisition of the struggling solar company is due to take place on 17 November.

Owning SolarCity is part of a move to “complete the picture” for the motor company by aligning with the Tesla Energy subsidiary, which already allows home owners to store energy through the Powerwall and Powerpack products – with reservations already amounting to $1bn.

Last month, Tesla announced that all future EVs will be built with components that will allow the vehicles to drive autonomously. Each vehicle will also be synced with smartphone technology allowing the owner to “summon” the vehicle at the touch of a button.

Earlier this year it was revealed that BMW is exploring the potential of a sunlight-harvesting material with the ability to release heat on demand, as an efficient means of de-icing car windshields.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie