Mike Chino

Ford Showcases Sun-Powered C-Max Solar Energi Car at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show

by , 01/13/14

Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, solar-powered car, photovoltaic car, c-max solar energi, Detroit Auto Show, NAIAS, North American International Auto Show, 2014 Detroit Auto Show, NAIAS 2014, automotive, car design, green transportation, green cars, sustainable transportation, eco car, green technology, electric car, hybrid car, EV, electric vehicle, solar energy, renewable energy

Ford’s C-MAX Solar Energi Concept marks the first time a major automaker has unveiled a car that can harness enough energy from the sun to power its electric motor. The vehicle was developed in collaboration between Ford, SunPower Corp, and the Atlanta-based Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, solar-powered car, photovoltaic car, c-max solar energi, Detroit Auto Show, NAIAS, North American International Auto Show, 2014 Detroit Auto Show, NAIAS 2014, automotive, car design, green transportation, green cars, sustainable transportation, eco car, green technology, electric car, hybrid car, EV, electric vehicle, solar energy, renewable energy

The roof of the C-MAX Solar Energi features a set of high-efficiency SunPower photovoltaic panels. In order to generate enough energy to propel the car, Ford teamed up with Georgia Tech to develop a special off-vehicle Fresnel lens (similar to the lenses used by lighthouses) that tracks the sun and concentrates available sunlight by a factor of 8. A full day of solar exposure can generate the equivalent of a four-hour battery charge (8 kilowatts), and Ford estimates that the sun “could power up to 75% of all trips made by an average driver in a solar hybrid vehicle.” All told, the C-MAX Solar Energi stands to reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions a typical owner would produce by four metric tons.

Of course, the vehicle is based on Ford’s C-MAX Energi car, which at 100 MPGe is one of the most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid vehicles in the US. The solar vehicle also comes with a standard charging port for days when the sun isn’t shining, and a full charge will net the car the same total range as the conventional C-MAX Energi – an impressive 620 miles with 21 electric-only miles. The C-MAX is Ford’s plug-in sales leader, and the automaker expects to post record sales of over 85,000 hybrid and all-electric vehicles in 2013. Ford plans to begin real-world testing this year to determine if the C-MAX Solar Energi is fit for commercial production.

+ Ford

+ SunPower Corp

+ Georgia Institute of Technology

Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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3 Comments

  1. KillmonTires April 23, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I like the Ford’s C-MAX Solar Energi concept. It will help to save my budget as well as the environment. Also it produces no noise pollution.

  2. MICHAEL GUNTER January 17, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I like the solar panel idea. At last someone has had the courage to develop a high-efficiency solution. But where do I put my sun-roof? My luggage rack? The solar idea would be an even even greater step forward if, instead of combined with plug-in and go, it was combined with standardised cassette loading electric battery mechanisms, and serviced by roadside electric battery loading stations, that automatically load the ready-charged batteries from racks of continuously charged batteries, charged up from the service station’s own banks of high-efficiency SunPower photovoltaic panels.

  3. ThomW January 13, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I have a plug-in Prius and enough PV’s on my roof to charge it. How is this any different? You still need the “special off-vehicle Fresnel lens” to make it work. I guess you could store the lens in the back and mount it to the car in the parking lot.

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