While it may only be a concept vehicle at this moment in time, the Ford C-Max Solar Engeri will be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas between 7 January and 10 January 2014. This is not the first time that solar power has been interlinked with the electric vehicle market but so far no solar powered vehicle has actually made it to the market. It is hoped that the new Ford solar powered electric vehicle could prove to be one of the turning points for the industry, although opinion is divided as to whether it will actually go into full production.
The vehicle itself is fitted with an array of solar panels on the roof and also comes with its own parking canopy which helps to cultivate the sun's rays, redirecting them towards inbuilt solar panels. The vehicle itself is designed to be recharged in a "large parking area" because due to the unique navigation concept within the vehicle, it will actually slowly move itself around a parking spot to maximise solar power cultivation.
Readily available technology
Interestingly, despite the way in which Ford has brought together the roof solar panels and the parking canopy, this is not new technology. The solar panels are available separately with the parking canopy also available as a stand-alone system, but bringing them together does offer a number of potential opportunities going forward.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "While Ford may have been a little slow off the mark with regards to electric vehicles, there are many Ford electric vehicles available today which include the award-winning Ford focus electric car not to mention an array of Ford electric vans. Have any Ford electric cars or vans caught your eye? What kind of experience have you had with a Ford electric vehicle?"
It is also believed that 39% of customers who acquire electric vehicles will either already, or at some point in the future, have rooftop solar panels available at home. The idea would be to incorporate these existing solar panel systems with the vehicle itself to maximise cultivation. Even though this is a very interesting development it is worth noting that so far Ford has not actually priced the cost of building such a vehicle and whether indeed it will ever make it to market.
What is the point of concept vehicles?
While the vast majority of concept vehicles will never make it to market, by introducing various concepts along the way we can trigger other thoughts and other technological advances. The idea of putting together solar panels, electric vehicles and a parking canopy is not new but seeing a vehicle which incorporates all of these is not only good for the industry but also gives potential customers of the future food for thought.
It is also encouraging to see the likes of Ford looking towards the concept arena which is very expensive and ultimately less rewarding than you might expect. The introduction of the new Ford solar powered vehicle at the forthcoming show in Las Vegas will certainly catch industry headlines and put the electric vehicle market back in the spotlight.
Slowly, but surely, we are seeing the emergence of new ideas and new technology in the electric vehicle market. The likes of Ford is now joining a growing band of car manufacturers who are willing and able to finance potentially expensive concept vehicles as a means of pushing the industry forward and grabbing the attention of would-be customers of the future. There is no doubt that solar power will play a major role in electric vehicles going forward but whether this is in five years, 10 years, 20 years or longer remains to be seen.