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Ford Introduces Solar-Powered Hybrid

Ford's new solar car uses a canopy to boost solar cell power. Testing will begin later this year.
Posted at 3:25 PM, Jan 02, 2014

Ford is set to showcase its new plug-in hybrid vehicle that comes with solar panels on the roof. The big debut will happen at the Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show starting Jan. 7.

Based on Ford's already-existing plug-in car, the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept can run 21 miles on just electric power before it switches to a gasoline engine. This extends the total range to about 620 miles. (Via Bloomberg)

At this point, the 300-watt solar cells can only charge the car's battery about one-eighth full — which will get you roughly 3 miles down the road. (Via Los Angeles Times)

So, to boost the cells' power, the car can park under a canopy Ford calls a "magnifying glass," a special concentrator that directs intense solar rays to the roof's panels allowing for a full 8-kilowatt charge. (Via Ford Motor Company)

Ford says the use of this canopy would eliminate having to set up charging stations in parking lots. The tech could even reduce annual greenhouse emissions produced by the average driver by 4 metric tons, or nearly 9,000 pounds. (Via CNN, Los Angeles Times)

If testing goes well, Ford sees potential to set up the system in workplace parking lots. (Via Los Angeles Times)

Ford executive Mike Tinskey praises the canopy's ease of use. "If you’re in an area that doesn’t have electricity either provided or a very unreliable source of electricity, this concept will still work." (Via YouCar)

Ford isn't the only automaker that has been testing solar panels in its cars.

An option on the Toyota Prius includes solar panels to power an electric fan that cools the cabin when the car is parked. Another luxury sedan, called the Fisker Karma, also has a solar panel. It adds about 5 electric miles per week when always parked in the sun. And the Audi A8 also uses solar panels to operate a cabin fan. (Via USA Today)

 

Ford will begin testing the solar hybrid and its canopy system later this year. There is no estimate on how much the car would cost if it were ever to go on sale.