It may look like the regular Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, but what lurks above sets it apart not only from the C-MAX family, but most every vehicle: It has a solar panel roof. The solar cells and related technology allow for a four-hour battery charge.
This C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is more than some kind of show gimmick, and it will be on display at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, January 7-10, 2014. Ford perceives it as an important milestone in its electrification research, especially when it comes to places where the electric grid is underdeveloped, unreliable or expensive to use. Following the concept’s appearance at CES, it will undergo testing, including in real-world situations, to help determine whether putting it into production is a viable option.
The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is a first-of-its-kind vehicle for Ford, and was built by Ford and SunPower. Because of the extended time it takes to absorb enough energy to fully charge the vehicle, Ford turned to Georgia Institute of Technology for a way to amplify the sunlight in order to make a solar-powered hybrid feasible for daily use.
Researchers 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. Fresnel is a compact lens originally developed for use in lighthouses. Similar in concept to a magnifying glass, the patent-pending system tracks the sun as it moves from east to west, drawing power through the concentrator each day.
The Solar Energi Concept still has a charge port, so charging it via connecting to a charging station through cord and plug is still doable.
While this is just a concept for now, you can learn more about the 2014 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid at ford.com.