Op-Ed: Volvo’s Pure Tension Solar Electric Vehicle Charger is an Absolutely Useless Work of Visually Stunning Art


“The “PURE Tension” Volvo Pavilion, a collaborative effort between Synthesis Design + Architecture, Buro Happold, and Fabric Images, is a lightweight, rapidly deployable, free-standing tensioned membrane structure and portable charging station commissioned by Volvo Car Italia to showcase the new Volvo V60 Hybrid Electric Diesel car.  Officially to be  launched in Rome, Italy in September 2013, this experimental structure was developed through a process of rigorous research and development that investigated methods of associative modeling, dynamic mesh relaxation, geometric rationalization, paneling, and material performance.  These explorations illustrate the dialogue between design, engineering, and fabrication that define this project.”

Not Sure How This Will Work Out in the "Real World"

Not Sure How This Will Work Out in the “Real World”

That’s how Synthesis Design + Architecture describes Pure Tension, but here’s what we say: it’s fairly useless.

Sure, Pure Tension can capture rays from the sun at all angles.  Yes, it’s visually striking.  Maybe it can slowly charge a battery.  Perhaps it could work in the experimental world or in trial setting.

But there’s no way this works in “real life.”  Volvo says Pure Tension is light and flexible enough that it could be folded up and stuffed in the trunk.  Wonder what it’s like to try to fold?  We’d assume it’s way trickier than folding a fitted sheet.

That’s not the real problem though.  Look at its size.  Where could you deploy such a thing?  In the Costco parking lot?  You’d illegally occupy three or four spaces, right?

And don’t you think theft or vandalism might be an issue?

Sometimes we wonder why so much money is wasted on an object that makes no sense.  Pure Tension is that object.  It’s a work of art.  It shoud be hung from the ceiling of an art gallery and call it day, because that’s where it belongs.

Categories: Charging, Volvo


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4 Comments on "Op-Ed: Volvo’s Pure Tension Solar Electric Vehicle Charger is an Absolutely Useless Work of Visually Stunning Art"

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The cells are arranged for aeasthetic reasons, not to capture light. Maybe 20% of the area is covered? Then, factor in that only 20% of those will be optimally angled, and you get 96% derate factor over an array of that size angled correctly. This puppy puts out 100W, TOPS, or 5% of a 110V trickle charge.

Those few solar cells are just a decoy. What Volvo has completed it actually its first sail-car.

Seriously, at 7 x 3m, this thing has the potential to really propel the vehicle… in whatever direction the wind is going, at least.

Since this thing pegs the stupid-meter, I suspect this concept was probably dreamed-up and mandated by a top-level Volvo exec. In most large companies, “please your boss” is rule number one, no matter how stupid the directive.

“Officially to be launched in Rome, Italy in September 2013”

Did they provide any more details than this? I’ll be in Rome in September. Maybe I could snap a picture of it.