The Ford C-MAX Solar Energi concept is set to be unveiled in full at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) in Las Vegas later on this month. It'll be fitted with a bespoke solar panel on its roof, which Ford claims, has: "the potential to deliver the best of a plug-in hybrid without depending on the electric grid for fuel."
The C-MAX Energi Solar runs very much like the plug-in C-MAX Energi – only available in the U.S – which is powered by an electric motor and petrol engine. Yet, where the standard Energi depends on an electrical output to charge the battery, the Energi solar concept harnesses the sun's rays by using a special contractor, which acts like a magnifying glass directing light on to the solar panel. If needed, the car can also be charged via a standard plug.
Ford says the car also uses autonomous technology - such as the auto-park function that is already available with the current C-MAX - to subtly follow the suns movements throughout the day.
The manufacturer also claims that a day’s worth of sunlight will provide the same amount of power and performance as the plug-in C-MAX Energi, able to return a claimed 120mpg and a range of up to 620 miles. Ford estimates using a car powered by renewable energy would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions per owner by four metric tons.
The C-MAX Energi Solar is the result of a collaboration between Ford and Georgia Tech, who will now begin real world testing on the vehicle to see if a production car is feasible. Ford also highlighted it has exceeded 85,000 hybrid, plug-in and all-electric vehicle sales worldwide for 2013.