Ford’s New C-Max Concept Is Serious About Solar Power

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The idea of a solar-powered vehicle has been around for a considerable amount of time, though in reality, the application of solar power to a vehicle hasn’t quite panned out in the way that it needs to in order to become a viable means of transportation. This hasn’t stopped companies from working toward that goal, however, as Ford (NYSE:F) believes it may have a solution for helping solar power become a more feasible source of automotive power.

Based on its C-Max Energi crossover-hatchback people carrier, Ford has outfitted the roof with solar panels, a move that has already been done and is available on some cars as an option. However, what makes Ford’s concept system special is a concentrator that essentially performs like a magnifying glass under the sun.

This unit would take the broad sun rays and concentrate them onto the vehicle’s roof with increased intensity. Through this method, the power produced would theoretically be enough to recharge the car’s battery pack — whereas now, installed solar panels can do little more than power the HVAC system of the car, or the stereo.

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“In theory, the C-MAX Solar Energi could fully recharge itself without the vehicle having to be plugged in to an electrical outlet. Ford believes sunshine could power up to 75 percent of all trips made in a solar hybrid vehicle, though the automaker does not give a distance for those trips,” MSNBC reports.

Ford will have the C-Max Solar Energi on display at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and is introducing the concept just as the company wraps up “a record year of electrified vehicle sales” with some 85,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicle expected sales for 2013.

Ford also estimates that the solar technology — should it reach the market — could save about four metric tons of greenhouse gasses annually, about as much as an average house emits over four months. It’s important to remember, though, that this is still largely conceptual, but if this idea does in fact make it to market, it could have profound effects for the future of electric vehicles.

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