The name leaves no room for confusion: the C-Max Solar Energi Concept harnesses the power of the sun through a solar panel roof and uses it to charge the batteries of the plug-in hybrid vehicle. Ford will debut the concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas (January 6-10).
Ford says a day’s worth of sunlight is enough to completely charge the hybrid vehicle’s batteries, with the concept delivering the same performance as the conventional C-Max Energy plug-in hybrid. By using renewable power, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is estimated to reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions a typical owner would produce by four metric tons.
The study is a collaborative project of Ford, SunPower Corp. and Georgia Institute of Technology. The high-efficiency solar cells for the roof of the C-Max Solar Energi Concept are provided by SunPower, while Georgia Institute of Technology developed an off-vehicle solar concentrator that uses a special Fresnel lens to direct sunlight to the solar cells while boosting the impact of the sunlight by a factor of eight.
The system tracks the sun as it moves from east to west, drawing enough power from the sun through the concentrator each day to equal a four-hour battery charge (8 kilowatts).
When fully charged, the Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept has the same driving range as a conventional C-Max Energi of up to 620 miles (998 km), including up to 21 electric-only miles (34 km). The study still has a charge port, for those days when the sun is too shy to show its face completely.
Ford says it will begin testing the vehicle together with Georgia Tech in real-world scenarios to see if it’s feasible as a production car.
By Dan Mihalascu