Ford Motor Co, the US’ second-largest automaker, is showcasing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that uses solar panels in the roof to recharge.
The C-Max Solar Energi will be on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that begins on Tuesday next week, the company said yesterday in a statement.
The vehicle can travel about 34km using only electric power and has a total range of about 998km.
It has between 300 and 350 watts of SunPower Corp solar cells in the roof and may portend a future of mass-produced rechargeable cars that do not need to be plugged in, said Mike Tinskey, director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure.
“We are starting to see a convergence that can make these things possible,” Tinskey said.
The concept includes a canopy-like parking structure that uses Fresnel lenses to focus sunlight on the car and boost efficiency of the solar cells.
It was developed with the Georgia Institute of Technology and shifts the car’s position throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky.
“It’s a tracking concentrator without the costs of one,” Tinskey said.
The car also has a standard port to connect to a charging station.
Ford estimates it sold more than 85,000 hybrids and electric vehicles last year.
Toyota Motor Corp’s Prius hybrid electric car has an optional solar panel that powers a fan to circulate air within the vehicle when it is parked in direct sunlight.
Nissan Motor Co offers a Leaf electric vehicle that uses a solar panel that helps keep the car’s battery charged.