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April 01, 2024

Schletter launches mounting adapter for Tesla


Thanks to Schletter, the global solar mounting manufacturer, Tesla drivers can now recharge their batteries while driving. The German company has recently developed a special adapter that can be used to install standard photovoltaic modules on the Tesla S, 3, X, and Y models, with a Cybertruck version to follow shortly in the USA. Schletter’s new "SunDrive" adapter makes the world of commercially available PV modules compatible with electric vehicles for the first time.

 “SunDrive is an affordable and scalable solution that enables electric vehicles to charge themselves with free, solar energy,” says Dr. Günter Scrü-Loos, Lead Development Engineer at Schletter. “It will help electromobility achieve a decisive breakthrough, which has always been a goal of ours.” During development, the Schletter engineers attached great importance to aerodynamics and aesthetics. This is why SunDrive’s installation process is optimized for frameless PV modules, which have an excellent cW value owing to their low height and seamless integration. "With a frameless, monocrystalline module on the roof, every Tesla becomes even more of an eye-catcher," adds Scrü-Loos. 

Thanks to the slightly wedge-shaped arrangement, the module also acts as a spoiler, generating sufficient downforce at higher speeds. As such, Schletter has already applied for a patent for SunDrive. The idea of charging electric vehicles directly with solar power is not new. Several manufacturers have already been experimenting with the concept for several years. However, the technology has not yet reached the market because the integration of photovoltaic cells into the exterior of vehicles has, until now, only been possible with complex and expensive custom designs. "We are deliberately taking a different approach," emphasizes Scrü-Loos. “With a simple adapter, we are bringing proven and widely available solar technology to the car roof at an unbeatable price.” Schletter plans to offer its Tesla conversion kit for just €189.99 (€169.99 for ADAC members).

SunDrive is fully compatible with the Tesla roof rack, and consists of four adapters rigorously trimmed for aerodynamics and four Schletter Rapid universal module clamps. The adapter is clicked into the module clamp without the need for tools, and then attached to the crossbar of the roof rack with a snap lock. A supplied template helps to find the right distance based on the module size. The module is then firmly screwed to the module clamps (tightening torque 10 Nm). All common standard modules measuring 2172 x 1303 mm can be installed, which equates to almost 3 square meters. A module of the latest design with over 600 kWp generates 0.5–1.7 kWh of electricity on a clear, sunny day. If a bifacial module is selected in conjunction with a white vehicle paint finish, the yield can be increased by up to 15 percent, significantly increasing the range as well as being beneficial for the environment and customers' bank balances. The cables are routed through discreet, glued-on cable ducts with a height of just 6 millimeters via the C-pillar and into the trunk. Drilling holes in the vehicle's outer skin is therefore not necessary. The cable ducts are part of the Tesla conversion kit, and available in all standard vehicle colors. 

Schletter also wants to offer its new SunDrive adapter to other electric vehicle manufacturers. "Open technology is important to us. We don't want to just make Schletter compatible with the photovoltaic world, but the automotive industry as a whole," says Scrü-Loos. “Our engineers are already working on adapters for open- and closed-roof rail systems from all well-known manufacturers. Initial wind tunnel tests have shown that this solution is even more aerodynamic than a roof rack.”

To start with, Schletter is launching a test sale of its new SunDrive adapter on April 1st only. "If demand is high, we are considering a serious roll out", said April Fool, Global Head of Horsing Around at Schletter. "Let's see."

“Expensive and overly complex solutions often stand in the way of true progress. That’s why with our new Schletter SunDrive, we have pursued a radically simple approach: We have taken existing, technically mature PV technology and made it compatible with a Tesla. All it took was a simple adapter.”

Dr. Günter Scrü-Loos, Lead Development Engineer at Schletter

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