Vehicles: A solar powered concept EV from Ford and a new alliance for connected vehicles


Ford has launched a new concept electric vehicle, the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, which uses solar power rather than depending on the electric grid for charging.

C-MAX Solar Energi Concept has a solar panel roof which is charged under a Fresnel lens, which concentrates the solar rays, similarly to a magnifying glass. According to Ford, with this system a day’s worth of sunlight is able to provide the same power (8 kW) as a 4-hour charge of the conventional C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, which draws its power from the electric grid – and a total range of up to 620 miles, including up to 21 electric-only miles.

The Fresnel lens is a compact lens originally developed for use in lighthouses. Ford’s system, which was developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, includes a tracking system that tracks the sun as it moves during the day, so that not only is the sunlight directed to the solar cells but also its impact is boosted by a factor of eight.

Additionally, the vehicle still has a charge port, so that it can be charged via cord and plug at a conventional charging station.

“Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept shines a new light on electric transportation and renewable energy,” suggested Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure.”

Real-world tests of the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept are due to start following International CES 2014, where the vehicle is currently on display. The outcome of those tests will help to determine if the concept is feasible as a production car.

In other vehicle news, despite that the smart connected home has still to take off, the industry and auto manufacturers are looking to the vehicle as the next frontier for connectivity, with the establishment of the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) to bring the Android platform to vehicles starting as early as this year.

Led by Google, along with founder members Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA, the OAA is aimed at providing an open development model and common platform that will allow automakers to “more easily bring cutting edge technology to drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way,” a statement reads.