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Nature · Economy · Technology

Ford goes off the grid - a glimpse of the clean vehicle future

January 08th, 2014
in:Nature, Economy, Technology
by:Itai Lahat
located in:USA
tags:energy, solar power

Ford Motor Company announced this week the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a first-of-its-kind sun-powered vehicle with the potential to deliver the best of what a plug-in hybrid offers – without depending on the electric grid for fuel.

Instead of powering its battery from an electrical outlet, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept harnesses the power of the sun by using a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to solar panels on the vehicle roof.

Researchers developed an off-vehicle solar concentrator that uses a special Fresnel lens to direct sunlight to the solar cells while boosting the impact of the sunlight by a factor of eight. Fresnel is a compact lens originally developed for use in lighthouses. Similar in concept to a magnifying glass, the patent-pending system tracks the sun as it moves from east to west, drawing enough power from the sun through the concentrator each day to equal a four-hour battery charge (8 kilowatts).
With a full charge, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is estimated to have the same total range as a conventional C-MAX Energi of up 35 electric-only kilometers. Additionally, the vehicle still has a charge port, and can be charged by connecting to a charging station via cord and plug so that drivers retain the option to power up via the grid, if desired.

The result is a concept vehicle that takes a day’s worth of sunlight to deliver the same performance as the conventional C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, which draws its power from the electric grid. By using renewable power, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is estimated to reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions a typical owner would produce by four metric tons. If all light-duty vehicles in the United States were to adopt Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept technology, annual greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by approximately 1 billion metric tons.

“Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept shines a new light on electric transportation and renewable energy,” said Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure. “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.”

C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, which is shown at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas these days, is a collaborative project of Ford, San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. and Atlanta-based Georgia Institute of Technology.

The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept debuts as Ford caps a record year of electrified vehicle sales. Ford expects to sell 85,000 hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles for 2013 – the first full year its six new electrified vehicles were available in dealer showrooms. C-MAX Energi is Ford’s plug-in sales leader, with sales of more than 6,300 through November. Ford sold more plug-in vehicles in October and November than both Toyota and Tesla, and it outsold Toyota through the first 11 months of 2013. Plug-in hybrids continue to grow in sales as more customers discover the benefits of using electricity to extend their driving range.

Article written by:
Itai Lahat
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