You can buy a portable charger for your phone, so why not for your electric vehicle? That’s the concept here: an elegant, collapsible car charger that’s as lightweight as a small tent, and as pretty as a butterfly.
Volvo’s V60 Plug-in Hybrid isn’t available in the United States until 2014. But the car-maker is already gearing up the marketing push. It recently organized the "Switch to Pure Volvo" competition, and this was the winner. It was designed by a Los Angeles-based group called SDA.
The charger is constructed from carbon fiber tubes, and covered in a mixture of high-density plastic and flexible solar panels from FTL Global, a specialist supplier. Volvo and SDA plan to have the device ready by September, though there are a few kinks to work out yet.
"The current target we are working towards is the minimum electrical current required to charge the car, which is six amps at 110 volts," says SDA’s principal, Alvin Huang, via email. "At that level it will take 12 hours to fully recover the 8kWh needed to fill a fully depleted battery."
Though the companies want to develop a functional product, there are no plans at the moment to release it to the public—which is a shame. Rather, as the press release says, the point is to represent "the same vision of energy efficiency and sustainability as the V60." In other words, it’s an elaborate form of publicity.
The car itself, which is the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, does have impressive credentials. In European tests, it’s gone 31 miles on its lithium-ion battery pack, and another 560 miles using its diesel tank. That works out at 155 miles per gallon. If it had a charger to go with that, it might be even better.