Ford’s latest concept car wants to literally go off the grid and it’s using solar panels to do so.
By attaching a solar panel to the roof of its C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, the company is showcasing one way to further reduce driver dependance on energy taken from polluting sources. Ford says the patent-pending system, which uses a special lens to magnify power drawn from sunlight – is able to absorb energy equal to about a four-hour charge over the course of a day’s sun exposure.
The C-Max Solar Energi should also be able to travel the same 21 electric-only miles as its non-solar sibling or up to 620 miles using gasoline. Ford also says the concept gets an average EPA-estimated 100 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe).
Ford hasn’t said what it would cost to add the panels, but plans to show the concept during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. After that, it will begin real-world testing to determine production feasibility.
Despite the presumably impractical costs, an electric car that could charge itself without being plugged in could take pressure off of the need for charging infrastructure.
Hyundai, Honda and Toyota are all gearing up to begin releasing hydrogen-powered vehicles soon, although those cars will face similarly daunting infrastructure challenges. Aside from initial costs, it’s also hard not to wonder how a panel that relies on a special lens would be affected by exposure to road debris or anything else that could cause damage.
Ford estimates that average drivers would be able to power 75 percent of their trips with solar power with the technology on this concept car.
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