Just as we are getting used to all-electric plug-in vehicles again, Ford Motor Company debuted a solar concept car that can eschew the grid.
The roof of the C-Max Solar Energi car sports enough solar panels to power the car. The electric car is a hybrid with a gasoline-engine backup that Ford says will give the car an MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) of 108 city and 92 highway for a combined total of 100 MPGe—twice as high as the Prius hybrid.
According to Consumer Reports “The C-Max Solar Energi concept is basically a conventional C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid with an advanced solar array riding on top. Because the roof can’t hold enough solar panels to collect a full battery charge in a day, Ford has worked with utility solar provider SunPower to develop a solar concentrator that magnifies the solar rays hitting the cells and tracks the sun as it moves across the sky. Using the solar collector can fully charge the C-Max Energi’s standard 7.6-kWh battery in a day. That gives the car a claimed range of 21 miles before the gas engine needs to start to keep powering the car. Ford says this is enough for 75 percent of the trips C-Max Energi drivers take.”
For those wondering what happens when one parks the car in the dark garage, Ford calls the the collector, “an off-vehicle solar collector.” There is a video that shows how the car works to charge.
Consumer Reports did a survey that found many consumers were just a plug away from an electric car. They found that 48 percent of survey respondents park on the street or do not have have a place in which to plug their vehicle.
The concept car is a collaboration between Ford, Sunpower and the Atlanta-based Georgia institute of Technology.
Unless or until charging stations become ubiquitous, a solar-electric hybrid may be the best alternative.