Automotive

Fantastical Thundertruck EV rocks fold-out solar awnings and a snap-on 6WD caboose

Fantastical Thundertruck EV ro...
Thundertruck's fold-out solar awnings would supply a modest but useful amount of energy over the course of an ideal day
Thundertruck's fold-out solar awnings would supply a modest but useful amount of energy over the course of an ideal day
View 10 Images
Thundertruck's fold-out solar awnings would supply a modest but useful amount of energy over the course of an ideal day
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Thundertruck's fold-out solar awnings would supply a modest but useful amount of energy over the course of an ideal day
It's sharp. It's mean. It's angular
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It's sharp. It's mean. It's angular
This thing would definitely be a Decepticon
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This thing would definitely be a Decepticon
Thundertruck can be transformed into a 6-wheel-drive thanks to a self-balancing, clip-on "Range Extender"
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Thundertruck can be transformed into a 6-wheel-drive thanks to a self-balancing, clip-on "Range Extender"
Fold-out awnings made of flexible solar cells
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Fold-out awnings made of flexible solar cells
Apparently it gets its own drone, because why not?
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Apparently it gets its own drone, because why not?
Yup, the wildlife'll bounce right off this fella
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Yup, the wildlife'll bounce right off this fella
A classy if fictional interior
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A classy if fictional interior
Approach and departure angles: not an issue on this jacked-up monster
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Approach and departure angles: not an issue on this jacked-up monster
Sorry, those are just the solar awnings and not missile launchers
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Sorry, those are just the solar awnings and not missile launchers
View gallery - 10 images

This all-electric 4x4 off-road concept has a monster battery pack, a brutally angular and military look that borrows heavily from the Cybertruck, and pop-out solar panels for off-grid charging. Oh, and if you need extra range, you can snap two extra wheels and a battery onto the back of it with a self-balancing caboose that makes it a six-wheel-drive.

First things first: Thundertruck is the brainchild of a Los Angeles "creative consultancy," conceived mainly as a way to keep the team busy during the first wave of COVID lockdowns. "Instead of baking bread or making puzzles," says the Wolfgang L.A. team, "we decided to make a new state-of-the-art EV truck."

So while Wolfgang says it "has the ability to support an entire product development program, from research and strategy to initial sketches and first prototypes, all the way to advertising launch campaigns and content creation," it's fair to say it's unlikely we'll be seeing the Thundertruck out bush-bashing or crushing hillclimbs any day soon.

This thing would definitely be a Decepticon
This thing would definitely be a Decepticon

Still, it looks pretty badass – and so would I, if equally liberated from the constraints of harsh reality. It's a cross between some sort of military stealth vehicle, a jacked-up sports pickup and some of the more evil-looking side-by-sides we've seen in recent times.

And the Cybertruck, of course; any off-roader with sharp angles from now on will be seen as an homage to Tesla's low-poly bare-metal beast – although there probably won't be a ton of things hitting the road with these future-flat windscreens, once people get a good look at how comically cumbersome the wipers need to be.

The fantasy spec sheet gives it a whopping 180 kWh battery pack and a 400-mile (644 km) range, with a dual-motor 4x4 powertrain laying down 800 horsepower and 800 pound-feet (1,085 Nm). Enough, apparently, to give this 6,120-pound (2,776 kg) beast a 3.5-second sprint time from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h).

Thundertruck can be transformed into a 6-wheel-drive thanks to a self-balancing, clip-on "Range Extender"
Thundertruck can be transformed into a 6-wheel-drive thanks to a self-balancing, clip-on "Range Extender"

But there's more, in the form of a "TT Range Extender." This is not, as you might think, a gasoline generator. Oh no siree. It's an extra set of wheels, motors and a 30 kWh battery pack you can stick on the back of the Thundertruck to turn it into a 940-horsepower 6X6 with an alleged 560-mile (900 km+) range. We expect that's a typo – adding one-sixth more battery should only increase the range by one-sixth to 460 miles (740 km), and that's assuming the extra two wheels and 1,440 pounds (653 kg) don't give it a nasty kick in the ol' miles per gallon equivalent. Which they clearly would.

Still, while we're enjoying a flight of fancy, check this out: Wolfgang says the range extender add-on "utilizes self-balancing tech for an easy coupling/uncoupling process," presumably wobbling around your garage like a Segway that's lost its mall cop. In some ways, I guess it makes sense; you've already got the wheels and motors, a gyro and balancing system isn't that much to add. In other ways, the idea of a whole detachable chunk of car makes me very nervous, especially on a tough off-roader.

Thundertruck's also got a set of collapsible, roof-mounted "bat wing" awnings you can fold out for a little shade, and to recharge the battery, since they're made of flexible solar panels. Great idea, right? Well, maybe. Let's do some back-of-the-envelope maths on that, being overly generous with our figures.

Fold-out awnings made of flexible solar cells
Fold-out awnings made of flexible solar cells

Let's assume the total exposed area of solar awning is about the same as the footprint of the truck, at 207 x 87 inches. That's 11.6 square meters (125 square feet) of PV panel. Let's also assume that these flexible solar panels are as efficient as, say, the pretty decent 2020 models on top of my house, ignoring the fact that the very latest flexible cells are about 25 percent down on efficiency from the very latest flat ones, as well as probably not flexible enough to work in the kind of roll-up awning we're looking at here.

... the range extender add-on "utilizes self-balancing tech for an easy coupling/uncoupling process," presumably wobbling around your garage like a Segway that's lost its mall cop.

Let's also assume absolutely ideal solar conditions equal to the best day's power generation I can find flipping through my rooftop solar data. On that blessed (baking hot) day, each of my twenty-one 1.7 square meter (18.3 sq ft) panels pulled in a mighty 2.2 kWh of energy. So under the perfect conditions, with extremely friendly assumptions, the Thundertruck's solar awning might be expected to deliver about 15 kWh of energy back to the battery in a day – enough to drive about 33 miles.

That's better than I'd have expected, frankly, and a useful amount. Even dropping back to an average day's solar generation in my part of the world would give you about 7.9 kWh, or about 17.5 miles of range, provided you left the car in one place all day with the awnings out. It's not nothing, and it'd add up over time, but these are still pretty generous estimates and a good illustration of why solar charging in the rooftops of electric vehicles is still vanishingly rare.

Sorry, those are just the solar awnings and not missile launchers
Sorry, those are just the solar awnings and not missile launchers

Viewed as a design project, Thundertruck deserves kudos on a sweet-looking shape that would certainly turn heads. We'd be surprised if it went much further than the render stage, but we've been surprised before, and while there's some totally wacky stuff in here, it's not what we'd call a complete clustertruck. The final word on this machine should go to the Wolfgang team, and they don't disappoint. "Thundertruck is not your grandfather’s truck," says the website. "In fact, it’s nobody’s truck just yet."

Source: Thundertruck

View gallery - 10 images
12 comments
12 comments
Daveb
Definitely wanted those to be missile launchers… read my (everyone’s) mind. Made me laff, again
Daishi
I think something the Cybertruck demand has shown is that not everyone wants to blend in. Almost anything will get you to work and back doing the speed limit but not many people choose the cheapest option. To me it's annoying that so many vehicles look almost the same.
Hendrik Ehlers
I want one !
Malatrope
Fascinating. Running purely on solar recharging is equivalent to what a person can walk, which is 15-20 miles per day. One day charging and presumably driving that off in the evening is 17.5, right in the middle of that range.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Username
From the picture I'd say the unfurled solar panel is almost twice the footprint of the vehicle.
guzmanchinky
This is a cool concept. But battery density and charge times are improving daily. I'll just wait a few more years for a Jeep or a Razor with a super long range. I'm just not comfortable taking a Hummer EV or something similar far off road. If you have extensive off road experience you know that when you are out there, you can run into dead ends, mud pits, sand or snow (that require TREMENDOUS power and time reserves) along with winching, heavy A/C or heater use, etc. And if you run out of GAS you can just borrow some from another driver, or have someone bring you a can. I am waiting for the day they need a helicopter to bring a Hummer or Cybertruck out of the middle of the forest somewhere...
Adrian Akau
A fold out solar panel system would be good for off-road electric bikes.
verdico
This would be a good fit for a Solarpunk society.
Alex
Плащеносная ящерица :)
ppeter
The solar wings look like a great idea. Just wondering if it would be possible to create something similar that could be put optionally on the roof of any electric car. Maybe with the wings stretching not so much to the sides, but more to the front and to the back, so it would not only charge the battery, but also provide shade to the front- and back window of the car.
As for the extension with the additional two wheels, not sure how this is better than a trailer with a couple of additional batteries and/or a diesel power generator for emergencies. Certainly I don't need 940 horsepower, but there may be people who do need that much power.
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