At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ford will show off a C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid equipped with solar panels on its roof.
The Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept is fitted with Sunpower’s photovoltaic cells, which are claimed to be 50 percent more power dense than conventional solar cells. With their metal-back construction and ability to be mounted on a slightly curved surface they match the curvature of the C-Max’s roof, albeit raised about an inch (2.5cm) or above the regular roof height.
Despite the C-Max Solar Energi’s solar cells’ improved power density they only generate 300W, which given a full day’s sunlight isn’t enough to recharge the plug-in hybrid’s lithium-ion battery pack. To accomplish that feat Ford is proposing a low-cost solar reflector canopy that would sit above the car while it rests at home on the driveway. The canopy would feature an array of magnifying glasses concentrating the sun’s energy onto the C-Max’s solar panel roof.
Reflectors used in solar power stations typically focus light onto a field of solar panels, which are fitted with mechanical bases to allow them to the track of the motion of the reflector’s beam as the sun traverses the sky during the day. For Ford’s imagined home reflector setup the C-Max Solar Energi would slowly inch backwards (or forwards) along the driveway to achieve a similar effect.
The Ford C-Max is a Focus-based people mover sold in Europe and North America. The C-Max Energi is a US-only low volume plug-in hybrid version featuring a 68kW electric motor, 7.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 105kW/175Nm 2-litre petrol engine. Working together the hybrid system can deliver up to 145kW to the front wheels, while a depleted lithium-ion battery takes about 7 hours to recharge via a standard US 120V outlet.