Okay Elon Musk, prepare yourself, because the geniuses (plural) at Ford Global Technologies, LLC. are taking inflatables to a whole new level. They have recently patented a large inflatable solar-cell arrangement, which drops down from a stowage state to a tensioned state, thereby allowing for more solar real-estate.
In their patent application, it appears as if they inflatable storage box is sitting atop a Focus or similar small crossover. Naturally, the Mach-E comes to mind, as the most cutting-edge electric project Ford has going currently. It also somewhat fits the form factor of the Focus.
In layman’s terms, this is like an inflatable mattress, or seven, which have been rolled up into a box on the car’s rooftop. When you flip a switch, or pull a cord, then they will roll out and cover your entire car, which allows the embedded solar panels to cover more surface area. As all chemists and scientists know, especially those big-brain individuals at Ford, surface area is the operating principle behind most reactions, and this will increase effectiveness by many multiples.
In the past, solar-equipped cars from Fisker or Hyundai, could achieve little more from the sun’s energy than powering the radio display. However, with the increase in efficiency of solar cells in the past decade, and this ingenious tactic for deploying them, perhaps the Mustang Mach-E and its successors could get a whole 100-miles of range while parked at the stores.
More likely, this will be a special option or aftermarket part, that campers can use to power their camp toasters with. Hopefully it is as easy to put back in its container as their tents are, or a parachute is to put back in its pack.
No doubt these features will be all the rage at small children’s birthday parties, that is if Ford actually does anything with this patent. I’m going to formally acknowledge my handling of this story with a bit of jest. I honestly don’t understand why companies would bother patenting something so frivolous and silly, when they clearly have zero intention of bringing something as experimental as inflatable car-domes to market.