Tesla Cybertruck retractable solar bed cover revealed in patent

May 27, 2021

Tesla’s plan for a retractable solar bed cover on its Cybertruck electric pickup truck has been revealed in a new patent application.

After the launch of the Cybertruck, CEO Elon Musk surprised many when he said that Tesla’s new electric pickup truck will have a solar roof option that will add 15 miles of range per day.

It was surprising because several automakers, including Tesla, had previously explored adding solar on electric vehicles before, but most projects haven’t come to production or provided any significant power.

They either only power auxiliary features and not the actual powertrain’s battery pack, or they only provide a few miles of range per day.

In 2017, Musk said that he pushed his Tesla engineers to look into integrating solar cells on Model 3, but they concluded that it wasn’t worth it at the time.

Solar cell efficiency has since improved, and Tesla developed its own expertise in embedding solar cells through the development of solar roof tiles.

Now, Tesla’s design for the retractable bed cover with solar cells embedded was revealed in a patent application released today:

Tesla describes the system in the patent application:

“A truck bed cover integrated in a vehicle (e.g., a truck), configured to move through an opening formed between a cab and a truck bed, and along a set of channels on the truck bed. The vehicle includes a motor engaged with the truck bed cover and configured to enable an automated movement of the truck bed cover along the set of channels. The vehicle in one embodiment is an electric truck configured to run off a battery pack stored within the electric truck. The truck bed cover includes a plurality of movable portions, the plurality of movable portions linked together in a flexible format.”

In the patent application, Tesla released a few drawings that demonstrate how the cover rolls into the truck:

This is impressive considering it’s apparently strong enough for someone to stand on the cover.

Tesla also explains that it can embed solar cells in the tonneau cover:

“In one embodiment, the tonneau cover comprises solar electric cells that are electrically connected to a photovoltaic charging system and battery. In one embodiment, the battery is the vehicle battery that powers the vehicle, which in one embodiment may be an electric truck. When the tonneau cover is deployed to cover the bed and the solar electric cells that make up the slats are facing the sun, the battery within the electric vehicle can be charged by the solar electric cells.”

The solar cells will apparently be an option on the Cybertruck, according to Musk.

Here’s the full patent application from Tesla:

Electrek’s Take

This is a really cool design. I am glad that the patent application shows how it rolls into the truck. That’s awesome.

Shoutout to Arvind Pattabhiraman, Jared Migdal, Paul Venhovens, Greg Peer, Dhruv Kapoor, and Alan Clarke, who are all credited for the invention in the patent application.

This is great design and engineering.

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