[Editor's Note: This article has since been expanded to include a second EV charging solution, HEVO Power. Read the updated article here.]
It's crazy, when you think about it: You park your car in a hot parking lot. Come back later and the car interior is absolutely baking, thanks to the sun's passive energy. So you then spend fossil fuel energy cranking up the A/C to get the interior back down to a habitable temperature. It would make more mathematical sense, and be more ecologically sound, if we intelligently used the sun's energy to cancel itself out, by powering the car and the A/C.
That may be a long way off, but we're getting closer to that ideal, as evidenced by Synthesis Design + Architecture's Pure Tension, a collapsible pavilion designed to showcase Volvo's V60 Hybrid Electric Diesel. SDA's design was the winner of a Volvo design competition to create a pavilion to merely showcase the car at traveling events, but principal Alvin Huang and his team took things further: The crazily flowing shape of the Pure Tension is covered in fabric-embedded photovoltaic panels that absorb energy, from either the sun or artificial lighting indoors, which can then be transmitted to the car. In other words, it's like a huge sunshade that you can plug the car into.
It also fits handily into the trunk when broken down. Yes, you still need a crew to assemble the thing, but this isn't intended to be a practical, ready-to-buy solution; it's a pure exploration of what's possible using current technology and fabrication techniques. It also handily incorporates the "dynamic mesh relaxation" process—"a real-time digital form-finding process that utilizes computation to simulate physical forces in materials to discover form/force equilibrium" that SDA has been independently researching. It's something like "tensegrity" on steroids, or what Buckminster Fuller could have done had he had access to CAD.
In the following video, Huang discusses the project and doesn't gloss over the design elements that had to be sacrificed in order to realize the project. (For example, the Pure Tension takes an hour to erect, a concession to budgetary constraints; the original concept had the entire thing popping into shape when released, like one of those twist-folding photography reflectors.)