Solar-powered cars have long been a dream of futurists across the world, and in 2014 we get one step closer thanks to a new concept car. The Ford C-Max Solar Energi, which debuts as the Consumer Electronics Show later this week, can deliver the same all-electric driving range and performance by recharging via the sun. It does this by using a clever system that magnifies the sunlight and moves the car, capturing the most power possible.
The C-Max Solar Energi Concept uses advances in photovolic cells, as well as a clever sunlight magnifier to extract the maximum amount of power possible from the average sunny day. The C-Max actually moves itself underneath the magnifier in opposition to the sun to ensure that the car captures the most power possible. This allows the C-Max Solar Energi to achieve the same 21 miles of all-electric driving range and 100 MPGe as the standard C-Max Energi. And yes, it can still be charged with the standard charging port, and it retains its gasoline engine as well, allowing for a total driving range of around 620 miles.
It’s a very cool concept, one that brings us a step closer to solar-powered cars, though not without its drawbacks. The large magnifier would take up a lot of space in even a sizable driveway, and it’s unlikely most buyers are willing to make such a commitment to a car. Hence why it’s just a concept, and one unlikely to ever make it into production.
If, however, Ford can significantly shrink or altogether eliminate the need for the magnifier, suddenly you’ve got a car that charges on its own, for free, without the need for any special infrastructure or plugs; all it would need is about eight to ten hours of sunshine.
Most amazingly of, such technology isn’t nearly as far off as it seems, as solar power installations are growing at an exponential rate both in the U.S. and the world at large. It only makes sense that cars should adopt solar power too, and plug-in hybrids are the perfect setup for this kind of technology. Maybe one day soon, the C-Max Solar Energi Concept won’t just be a concept.