Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Model S sedan has been hailed for its long range and environmentally friendly technology. But what if we could make that tech even more eco-friendly? Of course CEO Elon Musk is working on this with solar roofs for their Supercharger stations, but at CES last week, an interesting concept emerged from someplace other than Tesla and Musk’s head.

tesla umbrella

Monarch Power shows Tesla umbrella

Business Insider reports that one of the most eye-catching items at the Consumer Electronics Show this year was a Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) sports car with an umbrella which sports solar panels. At this point, the umbrella appears to be just a concept, but that didn’t stop the maker, Monarch Power, from showing it off at CES. The company doesn’t have any of them for sale.

The umbrella is retractable and has 18 solar panels on it. There are 16 solar cells included it, and they generate 1.2 kW of power. Monarch would offer them as standalone panels, and they could, theoretically, enable drivers to drive on solar power without having to visit a Supercharger station. Monarch said specifically that the solar umbrella would “supplement” charging for the vehicle, suggesting that it isn’t powerful enough to replace charging stations entirely.

Getting realistic about solar charging

From the pictures, the size of the solar umbrella dwarfs the Tesla vehicle, so it doesn’t look too practical. However, this isn’t the first time it has been suggested that solar panels could be a car’s best friend. Some models of the Toyota Prius hybrid have solar panels on the roof. However, reviews on just how much power they added to the vehicle have been mixed.

Obviously this is one area where technology is still catching up to the concepts, but solar panel makers are continuously improving solar technology to squeeze more and more power out of smaller and smaller areas of panel space.