In a move on from its existing hybrid model, US car maker Ford has launched the C-Max Solar Energi – a concept car with a roof covered in high-efficiency solar panels that allows charging in an off-grid environment.
The 1.5 sq m of photovoltaic cells – produced by California-based SunPower Corp – are much thinner yet stronger than conventional cells, while their flexible properties allow them to be shaped to the streamlined curves of the car.
The energy-efficient cells produce 50% more energy than conventional cells. However, as this isn’t enough to charge the car alone, Ford has worked with the Georgia Institute of Technology to create a car port that enhances powering capability.
The car port features a roof of acrylic Fresnel lenses that work like a magnifying glass to concentrate the sunlight and intensify charging power by up to eight times. To ensure maximum effect, the car also autonomously rolls back and forwards in the port as the sunlight shifts throughout the day.
When fully charged the car can complete a 21-mile journey solely on electric energy – suitable for 75% of trips made by the average driver. Although designed for those looking for an off-grid alternative, the car can also be charged via the conventional plug-in method.
The C-Max Solar Energi concept will make its debut at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week (January 7-10). Look out for more Stylus coverage, coming soon. Meanwhile, for more on car innovations, see LA Design Challenge 2013 and Tokyo Motor Show.