When you think of solar cars, it's generally futuristic disk-shaped designs with tiny passenger pods ferrying a single person in technology events. But Ford plans to bring solar power to the everyday car, and is unveiling a concept that looks like any other vehicle on the road -- except perhaps for the solar panel roof.
Set to be presented at the coming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is a plug-in hybrid multi-purpose vehicle that can theoretically fully recharge via the solar roof.
Ford hasn't detailed the expected range of the car, but says a day of sun provides the "same performance" as a four-hour battery charge (8 kilowatts) in the equivalent C-Max Energi plug-in vehicle (not sold in Australia), which gets an electric-only range 34km, a total range of 1000km and an official economy figure equivalent to 2.4L/100km.
The key to the new highly-efficient solar wizardry -- a collaboration between the car giant, Californai-based firm SunPower and Georgia Institute of Technology -- is a concentrator that works like a magnifying glass in amplifying the sun's power as it's collected by the roof panels. The car can also be plugged in to the electricity grid if necessary.
“Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept shines a new light on electric transportation and renewable energy,” Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure Mike Tinskey said in a statement. “As an innovation leader, we want to further the public dialogue about the art of the possible in moving the world toward a cleaner future.”
While the CES car is not headed for the showroom just yet, Ford will trialling it in everyday driving to determine if there's a business case to put it into production.
Watch the desktop version of the Ford C-Max solar car video here.
This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott