Published on May 11th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


BMW Solar-Powered Bamboo & Carbon Fiber Charging Port

May 11th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.


So you’ve just dropped $135,000 on the brand new BMW i8 plug-in hybrid. Congratulations! But you’re not going to plug that into just any old charging port. Oh no, you need something classy, expensive, and of course, sustainable. What you need is this eco-friendly carport and recharging station, from BMW of course.

Designed specifically to fit either the BMW i3 or i8, the carport is constructed of bamboo beams held together by carbon fiber at the joints. These materials are used throughout both vehicles as a means to shed weight, as well as add  a touch of class. The roof is comprised of glass-on-glass solar panels built to last at least 30 years, though just how much juice it can send to your electrified Bimmer, the Bavarian brand won’t say. They will say that, if you have excess energy left over after charging your car, it will feed that energy back into your home to offset electrical costs.


It’s a more attractive alternative to the traditional, in-garage charging ports, or even worse, those plebeian public charging ports. It’s interesting that BMW is foisting this cool car charger on owners though, instead of installing them around electric car hotspots like L.A. Then again, the amount of power they provide, even in sunny SoCal, probably isn’t enough to be practical.

Cool doesn’t always have to be practical though, right?

Source: BMW

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Why build a carport with a leaky roof?

  • I have had too many BMWs and they all witnessed the same flaw: Fuel consumption was always 40% higher than stated. The M5 required one liter oil every 1000km in addition. Thos days are gone for me as I go electric. However, I want to see real performance before trusting the new figures from the i8, which – to me – has nothing to do with EVs. The i3 seems like a more serious EV and I wish BMW all success in commercializing it. With respect to the electricity it will need, I strongly recommend a Giraffe ( instead of the carbon-bamboo carport with semi translucent panels that look cool, but deliver very little power. By contrast, a Giraffe car port will bring the i3 more than one tour around the world per year – using materials more sustainable than carbon and bamboo.
    James Wimberly, you will like the Giraffe!


  • Byron Meinerth

    It’s important to remember we shouldn’t be comparing these to rooftops. Not everyone has the option of putting panels on a rooftop, and the true other option here is not to have a canopy at all. Canopies like this are more expensive than just installing panels on a roof, but there will be more and more of these in public parking lots and at a private homes where people want extra coverage without needing to build a garage.

  • eject

    given that the i8 only has a 5kWh Batterie which will never arrive fully empty at the charger because it has been charged by the ICE the output will be enough.

    • Omega Centauri

      I’m guessing it is really the computerize battery management system that will limit the range of the charge/discharge cycle. The Toyota Prius plugin is supposedly a 4.5KWhour battery, but it only takes 3KWhour to charge, the BMS won’t let you use EV mode once it is greater than 3KWhours below peak capacity. I would expect the i* to be similar, so maybe 3.5KWhour to charge.
      Thos “panels” have some transparent parts, I doubt they are high efficiency. But 3.5KW hour isn’t all that much anyway. The i3 however has an 80 mile EV range so it must take 15-16KWhours.

  • JamesWimberley

    Why diss the output? Eyeballing, the carport is around 3m x 4m or 12 sq.m. At 160 w per sq.m, that’s 1.92 kw. A small rooftop installation, but not trivial.
    You could almost certainly do better by passing on BMW’s eco-bamboo and overspecified carbon fibre, and building one yourself from treated timber with a sloping roof.

    • globi

      And 2 kW = 3000 kWh per year, which is enough to drive close to 10’000 miles electrically.
      (Could one also drive 10’000 miles if one planted corn to produce ethanol on the same roof…).

      • Bob_Wallace

        Couldn’t make even a gallon of lightening.

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