The concept car, which Ford claims is the first of its kind, is a plug-in hybrid with a difference. Rather than connecting to the mains to charge up the battery-powered half of its drivetrain, it harnesses the sun’s rays instead via roof-mounted solar panels.
However, even in a region where the sun shines brightly and directly overhead most of the day and most of the year, solar panels limited to the roof are not enough to capture sufficient energy to power a car.
That’s why the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept uses a concentrator that, like a magnifying glass, amplifies the intensity of the sunlight being absorbed by the solar cells.
The result is that a day’s exposure to sunlight is enough to deliver the same performance as the company’s current C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid car — an EPA-estimated 108 MPGe for the city and 92 MPGe of highway driving, or a combined 100 MPGe.
The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is a collaboration between Ford, SunPower Corp. and the Atlanta-based Georgia Institute of Technology and will be shown for the first time at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show, which gets underway in Las Vegas Tuesday.