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Something New Under the Sun

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On: Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 2:28PM | By: Karen Cook

Something New Under the Sun

Ford has a hot new idea. Solar-powered vehicles! Next month at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Ford will debut its latest concept vehicle, the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The car itself isn’t new, but the technology it sports is. It has a “sunroof,” but not the kind that lets light (and sometimes rain) into the vehicle. This sunroof is made of solar panels which allow the battery to charge using rays from the sun.

Ford teamed up with the Georgia Institute of Technology and California-based SunPower solar energy firm to create roof-mounted solar panels which can charge the battery of the Energi without an electrical outlet. The panels are capable of tracking the sun as it moves across the sky for optimal recharge power and also has a carport-style concentrator to boost the energy garnered from the sun even further. This concentrator is a separate unit, but Ford has promised it won’t be too expensive. A day’s worth of sunlight will be equivalent to four plug-in hours and Ford says it will reduce green house emissions by four metric tons, or the equivalent of what a US household produces in about four months. With the concentrator Ford predicts the panels can fully charge the battery in a day.

For people who live in sunny climes or who don’t have access to convenient plug-in ports, this could be a godsend. While it is still in the concept stages at this point, Ford says there are plans to test the technology further after the Las Vegas show to determine if this idea would be feasible in the real world.

Note to Ford: I did an article on November 15th suggesting this very idea. I will watch my mailbox for the royalty checks.


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