Ford Motor Company announced today that at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) it will present the C-Max Solar Energi Concept, a sun-powered vehicle that has a potential to deliver the best of a plug-in hybrid without depending on the electric grid for fuel. So, what’s the catch? Well, instead of powering its battery from an electrical outlet, the C-Max Solar Energi Concept uses a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to solar panels on the vehicle roof.
The new concept car is a collaborative project of Ford, SunPower and Atlanta-based Georgia Institute of Technology. SunPower has been Ford’s solar technology partner since 2011.
If SunPower provided the high-efficienty solar cells for the roof of the C-Max Solar Energi Concept, the researchers from Gergia 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.
“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 enough power from the sun through the concentrator each day to equal a four-hour battery charge (8 kilowatts).” said the press release.
According to Ford, the fully charged C-Max Solar Energi Concept has a range of up to 620 miles, including up to 21 electric-only miles. After C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is shown at CES, Ford and Georgia Tech will begin testing the vehicle in numerous real-world scenarios.