The Lotus Mobile is an 18-panel solar device that unfolds into a flower shape, and is so lightweight that inventor Joseph Hui was able to mount it on his Tesla Roadster and use it to charge the car.

OK, it’s probably not safe to permanently mount the Lotus Mobile on your vehicle, for the same reason it’s not really a good idea to drive around wearing a gigantic floppy-brimmed hat:


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But that’s not its real purpose — the point of mobile solar is to bring electricity to places that are underserved or unserved by current energy grids.

Honestly, the thing looks so gimmicky, and the idea of a solar umbrella on your car is so silly, that I thought this was an April Fools’ joke for a minute — especially when I found out that Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is supposedly appearing at the launch. But the video is from March 15 and this article is from yesterday and Jan Brewer is actually a solar supporter (she may be a Republican but she still lives in Arizona). So if you want to sit in your electric car, simultaneously shading yourself and charging your battery with an as-yet-unspecified amount of juice, I guess you’ll be able to get your own Lotus Mobile soon for about $3,999 (or a bit less if, as promised, the company establishes a Kickstarter). Just … just maybe fold it up while you’re driving.

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