Published on July 18th, 2013 | by James Ayre


Volvo V60 Solar Pavilion Fits In The Trunk & Can Charge Your Car

July 18th, 2013 by  

The Pure Tension Pavilion — a collapsible solar EV charging pavilion, and the winner of the 2013 Switch to Pure Volvo Pavilion Design competition — will be displayed later this year in Rome during the launch of Volvo’s V60 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Diesel model, as per a recent announcement from Volvo.

The Pure Tension Solar Pavilion when deployed. Image Credit: SDA

The Pure Tension Solar Pavilion when deployed.
Image Credit: SDA

The collapsible solar charging station certainly looks interesting, and is compact enough to fit into the car’s trunk when condensed down. The solar charging station is the product of a contest designed to “re-envision” the standard pavilions typically used for trade shows, provide shelter, have a beautiful design, and be a power source.

The pavilion has been described by Volvo as a vision of the future where cars can simply charge themselves by deploying structures such as this — while that may or may not be the case, the current design is unlikely to enter wide-scale use as it is. Though it certainly is interesting to look at, and there are probably a number of situations where it could prove useful, it’s not very practical for normal use. Simply putting solar panels on your roof and charging your car from your conventional electrical outlets makes much more sense and would be much more efficient.

As far as construction goes, the Pure Tension Pavilion is essentially just a tensioned membrane structure, composed of an HDPE mesh skin, a carbon fiber skeleton, and integrated with embedded photovoltaic panels. The appeal of the design is of course its ability to fully collapse and fit within the trunk of Volvo’s V60 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Diesel model when not in use.

The press release from Synthesis Design + Architecture — one of the designers along with Buro Happold, and Fabric Images — continues:

The issue of sustainability is addressed in the form of a power strategy which uses fabric embedded Photovoltaic panels and light collected from the sun or indoor artificial lighting to power the pavilion and charge the V60 model on show. The car will ‘plug’ directly into the pavilion’s skin, charging its battery with the energy collected over the day. The ‘Switch to Pure Volvo” pavilion becomes a symbol of the V60’s attitude to efficient energy consumption and a showcase of the Hybrid V60’s characteristics. [sic]

As TreeHugger notes: “While the Pure Tension solar pavilion is an experimental creation, and isn’t market-ready at all, if it turns out to be a functional and efficient product, it could serve to demonstrate another possible iteration of methods to provide some of the power to electric cars.”

While the idea certainly wouldn’t be ideal for everyday uses — and perhaps many readers will find the idea as a whole impractical — there are a variety of niche uses that this design would likely work quite well for. In particular, something similar to this could potentially work very well as a power backup for those off-roading, especially in remote and sunny regions — regions that are currently not very practical to travel through with most types of electric vehicles. Or perhaps even just for camping?

Any thoughts on the pavilion from our readers?

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Anothercoilgun

    Is this some sort of joke?

    • Might as well be. 😀

      • RobS

        To be fair I think it is quite beautiful as a creation and it makes a point about the potential of the combination of EV and solar. I don’t think it has any real world practicality but I don’t think it is completely without point either.

        • Good points.

        • rick stanley

          You’d be surpised. A canopy such as this could turn your car into a remote charging station for the zombie apopcalyse.

  • ToddFlach

    One high -efficiency PV panel probably generates as much power as this tent. Why not permanently mount 2-3 PV panels in the roof of the car?

  • kencave

    I’ve been wanting something just like this to charge my Fusion Energi at work where this is no plug. I would only need 1 Kw/h to have a full charge at the end of the day. Also there’s the double benefit of the shade reducing the need for Max A/C cooling when getting in for the drive home..

    • RobS

      If you only need 1kwh to recharge your morning drive why would you bother as the Energi has a 7.6kwh battery so will easily get you home too. This is a non starter, its going 2-3kwh a day max which is 30c worth of power and I’d be surprised if you got change from $2000 for it, it will simy never get enough use to justify the cost and carting it around everywhere, far better to mount the solar panels at your workplace as a solar shade canopy over the parking space or at home, fixed panels are cheaper, require no cumbersome set up and pack up, will survive the worst of weather and are always positioned correctly.

  • TickTock

    Great idea. Just limited by cost. I considered making such a device for my Leaf but quickly learned that to be able to charge in 8 hours it was going to cost almost twice what I paid for the Leaf and end up being big enough to shade my neighbors in the parking lot on all sides (although in Arizona, they will appreciate it!). If the price was <$10K I'd buy it today.

  • cravenhaven

    Anything that would allow more solar capability to be carried when camping/outback is worth investigating and this example provides shade as well. What more could you ask for?.
    I’d be interested to see an electric or hybrid offroad vehicle 🙂

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