Ford C-MAX Solar Energi (CONCEPT)

Written By: EightySix

Ford's C-Max Solar Energi Approaches a Sun-Powered Future

                       solar panels on roof - Ford c-max solar energi (CONCEPT)

The Ford C-Max Solar Energi is aggressively pursuing a gasoline-free future, but doing so with some familiar parts. In hybrid and plug-in hybrid forms, the C-Max has already sold over 73,000 units in the United States since 2012. Built on the same platform as the Focus and the Mazda 5, it seats five and holds 19.2 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row.

Essentially, the Solar Energi version is a plug-in hybrid, sold currently as the C-Max Energi, with a solar panel covering the entire roof. The panel charges the battery so it does not need to be plugged in, although it still is equipped with a charging port. If you're on a schedule, you'll be plugging it in. Ford says it takes a full day in the sun to charge the battery for a 21 mile electric-only drive. Using the gasoline motor, the full range is expected to be about 620 miles.

Yet parking the car in the sun alone won't recharge it. The vehicle comes with a separate solar canopy to assist with the process. Utilizing Fresnel lenses first used in the 1800s to extend the range of lighthouses, the canopy focuses the sun's rays over the roof panel. For maximum efficiency, the car must move with the sun. The canopy should be oriented east-to-west. The C-Max will then autonomously creep forward and back to make the most of the solar power.

Ford C-MAX Solar ENERGI (Concept)

Ford is currently building a giant solar carport at its World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The structure will accommodate 360 cars and contain 30 charging stations. It will produce an estimated 1.13 kilowatt/hours per year, or enough to power 158 average homes. Imagine hundreds of solar cars gradually adjusting themselves as the sun moves across the sky.

Ford expects to produce the C-Max Solar Energi by 2017 or 2018. Its success, like so many things, will be contingent on its price. A C-Max Hybrid starts at around $24,000 and the Energi sells for around $31,000. How much more for the solar bits? While a neat addition, the roof may not see much use until canopies like the one Ford is building become common. Quite often, you'll be plugging the thing in, particularly if your own canopy is at home. It won't charge at night while you're sleeping.

This idea has a lot of merit, though. Cities need to follow Ford's example and make solar carports commonplace. Once parking spots with chargers are numerous, plug-in sales will follow. And vehicles should have solar panels on every horizontal surface. So much energy is simply bouncing off.

The C-Max's bond with the Mazda 5 is also intriguing. Parents, consider how close we are to a solar plug-in minivan.