Car manufacturers have been heavily investing in next-generation technology to power their cars, but just as it started to look as though highly efficient petrol and diesel engines configured with start / stop systems were the most promising solution for the next 20 or 30 years, Ford has given us quite the surprise – the Ford C-MAX Solar Energi concept.
The C-Max Energi (yep, Energi, not Energy) features a solar panel on the roof that has the potential of a plug-in hybrid. It will generate all of the electricity for the car, and thus, drivers won’t have to depend on the National Grid for juice and fuel stations will be a thing of the past.
“The potential to deliver the best of a plug-in hybrid without depending on the electric grid for fuel.”
A day’s worth of sunlight should be enough to power the C-MAX for 620 miles according to Ford, which is around the same as the plug-in C-MAX. The difference of course is that the Energi version is self sufficient.
The car will still feature an EV socket though, for days that are particularly dark or if you’re running low at night.
Ford’s electrification boss Mike Tinskey said: “Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept shines a new light on electric transportation and renewable energy. As an innovation leader, we want to further the public dialogue about the art of the possible in moving the world towards a cleaner future.”
The premise sounds simple – stick a solar panel on the roof, wire it to the wheels, and hey-presto. Of course, it’s a little more complicated than that in the real-world.
Current solar panel technology wastes a lot of energy – the panels simply can’t absorb all of the suns energy. Just like electricity and battery packs, though, solar technology is advancing at a brisk rate, which means solar panels will be smaller in the future, and thus suitable for a wider range of applications.
It goes without saying that a solar panel would be a great idea on any type of car – even a car with a combustion engine. A solar panel powering all of a cars electrics would cut fuel economy considerably, and it would be particularly effective with a start / stop system.
Bristol Street Motors used Ford C-MAX currently includes a start stop system, but a solar panel would help it achieve better economy. Oil companies need not get worried just yet, though.
The Ford C-MAX Energi is just a concept. It was created by Ford in collaboration with Georgia Tech, and there’s a fair way to go before the technology can be refined enough for the end product to be affordable for motorists.