Between the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and the Roadster, Tesla built several different kinds of movable and non-movable glass roofs.
Now the company applied for a patent on a new type of movable panel roof also with fixed glass.
Tesla describes the system in the abstract of the patent application released yesterday:
“A moveable panel system for a vehicle comprises: non-parallel tracks on a body of the vehicle, the body having an opening; a panel sized to cover the opening; a transverse guide member on the panel; and compensation drive mechanisms that couple the panel to the respective non-parallel tracks, each of the compensation drive mechanisms moveable along the transverse guide member and moveable in one of the non-parallel tracks.”
Here are a few diagrams to better visualize the system:
Basically, the system uses un-parallel tracks instead of the parallel tracks in a traditional roof.
Tesla believes that it can enable a larger opening in its pano roofs:
“The fact that the tracks are parallel puts design limitations on the vehicle body. For example, a distance represents the spacing between the parallel tracks. This distance must necessarily be less than the narrowest width across the roof of the vehicle. Moreover, the opening that becomes accessible when the sunroof is opened (sometimes called the hands through opening) must be positioned between such tracks, and is therefore also constrained by the distance. In other words, with parallel tracks the design of the vehicle’s roof has placed certain limitations on how large the sunroof opening can be made.”
In Tesla’s lineup, only the Model S is currently available with a moveable panoramic roof. Due to the Model X’s Falcon Wing, the all-electric SUV is not offered with a pano roof and the Model 3 is currently only available with a fixed all-glass roof.
There’s no indication on what vehicle, current or future, Tesla plans to use this technology or even if they will use the technology. Sometimes companies will patent technology that will never end up in an actual commercial product. We will see.
Here’s the patent application in full: