During Media Day at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, I had an opportunity to speak with David McCreadie of Ford regarding their C-Max Solar Energi concept vehicle. Mr. McCreadie is part of Ford’s Hybrid and Electric Vehicles group, and he advised that this concept has been in development for the last year in cooperation with the Georgia Institute of Technology. The current C-Max Solar Energi concept is a 100% production model C-Max Plug-In Hybrid with the solar array and other controls added. Keep reading for more information on this concept.
Some of the key stats include:
- Roughly 1.5 sq. meters of solar cells on the roof of the vehicle
- Solar cells developed by SunPower – Monocrystalline cells, highest efficiency available in the industry today
- Solar cells will provide nearly 300 Watts of power on their own
- Solar cells can be combined with a “Concentrator lens” to capture a wider footprint of sun
- Concentrator array is 15-20 sq. meters, and amplifies the sun’s output roughly 8x
Since the solar array on the vehicle would take a significant amount of time to charge the battery on it’s own, Ford is developing a separate concentrator as well. The concentrator that Mr. McCreadie described could be implemented as a plug and play piece of infrastructure. It’s basically a carport that can be installed without the need to draw power from the grid. While this technology could easily be installed in an office or mall parking lot, it would also be perfect for developing nations, or areas with a weak, unreliable, or dirty grid.
Another key feature of the concentrator in conjunction with the C-Max Solar Energi is the way in which the vehicle moves. That’s right, in order to keep itself in the best possible position to receive the most available sunlight the C-Max Solar Energi will move itself. Mr. McCreadie described an “Automated Repositioning” feature, which allows the car to slowly creep forward or backward in order to receive the most sunlight from the concentrator. A CGI mockup of this process can be seen in the embedded video at the end of this article. Automated Repositioning uses the same sort of controls and sensors that are currently used in auto-park features.
It’s unknown how much the vehicle would actually move, or how precisely one would need to park in order to best take advantage of these features. Mr. McCreadie did say that there are currently no imminent plans to commercialize, or release the C-Max Solar Energi to market as they are still actively researching and fine-tuning the technology and processes.
Source: David McCreadie, Ford Motor Company
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