Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi Soaked Up The Sun At CES 2014
Technology titans from around the world use CES to give people a taste of their new products in development. The 2014 Las Vegas showroom was filled with wearable technology and alternative fuel concepts. The crowd was overcome with excitement by Ford’s announcement of industry changing innovation.
The C-Max Solar Energi concept is the first ever plug-in hybrid electric car that actually uses green electricity.
The Solar Energi Solution
Hybrid electric vehicles were a step in the right direction, but far from the final solution. As of January, 2014, the vehicles we call “green” and “eco-friendly” still contribute to the much larger problem.
Problem – A tremendous reliance on petroleum based gasoline and diesel. The current “plug-in” alternatives recharge using electricity, which is made from the same fossil fuels.
Solution – A vehicle that uses either solar or hydro power to power a vehicles engine.
Three Minds are Sharper Than On
The C-Max Solar Energi Concept is a collaborative project between Ford, Georgia Tech, and SunPower Corp.
Ford is an industry leader in automotive technology and was looking to develop the next breakthrough in alternative fuel. San Jose, California based SunPower Corp. co-developed the solar panel roof with Ford. The amount of time required to charge the battery was not practical for consumer use, so Ford found another solution.
Ford reached out to Georgia Tech’s Design and Manufacturing lab for ways to enhance the amount of sunlight the panels will absorb. The lab helped Ford develop a solar concentrator that acts like a solar magnifying glass for the panels on the roof.
Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi will use a day’s worth of sunlight to replace the need for an electrical outlet. The roof will be equipped with 16 feet of high-efficiency solar panels that use a magnifying glass like lens to magnify the power of the sun. The lens will enhance the power of the sun by a factor of 8. Each day, the concentrator will draw enough power to equal an 8 kW four-hour battery charge.
A full charge will allow the vehicle to travel 21 electric-only miles. Ford found that the 21 electric-only miles could, “power up to 75 percent of all trips made by an average driver in a solar hybrid vehicle.” Ford will be testing the practicality of the C-Max Solar concept and refining solar powered technology for future vehicles.