February 27, 2014
At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi concept car offered a vision for solar-powered electric vehicles (EVs) with a gas engine and rooftop solar panels that charge the motive batteries. Existing rooftop solar panels, such as those on the Toyota Prius, are inadequate to fully charge a car’s main motor batteries.
Ford’s concept involves building a carport with cheap plastic Fresnel lenses serving as the roof, concentrating sunlight falling on the car’s rooftop solar panels. To maintain focus as the sun moves across the sky, a computer will monitor the power output of the car’s panel and move the parked car for optimum power harvest.
In theory, the tracker could charge the battery in six hours to provide 21 miles of range. The car is in testing, as engineers tackle challenges such as how to address the carport’s flat rooftop’s vulnerability to weather.