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Solar powered Ford hybrid ready for real-world trials

The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a collaborative project between Ford, solar specialist SunPower and the Georgia Institute of Technology, will be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week before beginning real-world trials to test its production feasibility.

Its roof features a panel covered with SunPower’s latest thin and lightweight photovoltaic cells capable of harvesting 50% more energy than prior technology allowed. However, these alone cannot fully charge the vehicle during a full day.

So the concept adds a separate canopy, using SunPower’s solar concentrator technology. This uses a thin Fresnel lens made from low-cost acrylic to concentrate the sun’s rays onto the car’s solar panels, and adjusts to match the movement of the sun across the sky.

As a result, the C-MAX Solar Energi can charge within four hours just using solar power, offering a 21-mile electric range. As a backup, it can also be charged through its conventional charging port.

Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, 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 dialog about the art of the possible in moving the world toward a cleaner future.’

Alex Grant

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