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Tesla Model 3: Elon Musk virtually kills the possibility of a solar roof option

Earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk surprisingly said that Tesla would “probably” offer a solar roof as an option on the Model 3.

Now, Musk is throwing some cold water on the idea – virtually killing it.

We’ve discussed solar roofs on electric vehicles before, most recently with the one on the new Prius Prime (pictured above), but the recurring problem is that it rarely generates enough power to be worth it.

For example, we estimated that the solar cells on the Prius Prime’s roof could generate enough power to add about ~2 miles of range during the day. And of course, that’s highly dependent on where you are in the world and where you park your car.

Nonetheless, solar car competitions have pushed the technology further and now surprisingly, a startup is even developing a street-legal solar car with the technology. Though it’s still only vaporware for the moment.

A car’s roof is just not very big and efficiently positioned relative to the sun often enough to make a good support for a solar array. It’s generally more efficient to have solar panels at your house and charge your car there.

At the National Governors Association yesterday, Musk said that he pushed his Tesla engineers to look into integrating solar cells on their vehicles, but they came to the same conclusion.

When first talking about the idea earlier this year, Musk suggested that the feature could be a “deployable solar shield like a retractable hard top”. An idea possibly inspired by the “Solar Man” Tesla Roadster with a retractable solar array:

He expanded on the idea yesterday – saying that it could deploy from the trunk, like a convertible, and unroll a film of solar cells the size of a parking spot. They estimated that it could add 20 to 30 miles of range to a Tesla vehicle per day, but he added that it would be a complicated solution.

It sounds like we can forget about a solar roof option for the Model 3, or any of Tesla’s vehicles for that matter. Unless, maybe the Tesla Semi?

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