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Ford Develops Solar-Powered Car (A C-Max)

People have long stated that cars cannot be solar-powered (with panels solar panels mounted only on the cars). They were proven wrong by some solar-powered prototype cars. However, those cars were very basic, and had very little cabin room (they seated only one person). Ford developed a plug-in hybrid vehicle, which is based on a more traditional hatchback car design called the C-Max Solar Energi Concept. It has room, so you don’t have to squeeze into it as you would a Formula 1 car (unfortunately, the older solar-powered cars were like this).

2013 Ford C-Max (solar model not shown). Image obtained with thanks from mariordo59 on Flickr.
2013 Ford C-Max (solar model not shown).
Image obtained with thanks from mariordo59 on Flickr.

The reason people decried the concept of solar-powered cars is: Solar panels are too large. They usually generate only 100-250 watts (this translates to an efficiency range of 10% to 25%) of power per square metre (this is the efficiency issue people have been debating), therefore, a roof cannot accommodate enough panels to generate a significant amount of electricity. However, it is significant enough to assist the vehicle, provided that the panels are relatively efficient.

Video Credit: Ford via Zachary Shahan‘s Youtube channel.

The development of this vehicle matters, as the solar panels generate a quantity of electricity that is useful to the vehicle. According to Bloomberg, the solar panels can generate 300-350 watts of power.

That is enough electricity to:

  • Extend the C-Max range considerably (by at least 14 miles per day, assuming an average power consumption of 120 Wh/mile, and that there are only 5 hours of sunny weather daily). 14 miles is half the average distance traveled by most people, and it is also 69% of the C-Max Solar Energi electric-mode range, which is 34 km (21 miles) per charge.
  • Fully compensate for the battery’s self discharge, so the vehicle could be left unattended as long as necessary. No one would have to periodically start it or plug it in for you when you’re away, even if you left the headlights on. You won’t have to give anyone your keys!
  • Power the dashboard fan during the day during hot weather. This can ventilate the C-Max Solar Energi concept, so it won’t be as scalding when you first step into it. I haven’t confirmed that the C-Max Solar Energi concept has this feature, but, it is a good idea.

Apart from that, the C-Max Solar Energi Concept can travel 620 miles using gasoline. I should mention that this vehicle utilizes a solar canopy that concentrates sunlight onto its rooftop panels. It generates 300 watts without the canopy.

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Source: Bloomberg.

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