Are Solar-Powered Cars Coming?

Ford introduces C-MAX, a solar concept car.

Jan 18, 2014 at 12:00PM

The Fool headed out to Vegas to check out the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. With more than 3,200 exhibitors, including 88% of the top retailers in consumer electronics, the CES is the place to be to see what's coming up in tech.

Ford's (NYSE:F) C-MAX solar concept car has solar panels on the roof, and a solar concentrator to focus the sun's rays enough to charge the battery, potentially taking the car completely off the grid. 

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A full transcript follows the video.

Austin Smith: Hey, Fools. Austin Smith here on the floor of CES 2014, here looking at the Ford C-MAX solar concept.

Now this vehicle -- very interesting -- it's got a solar panel on the roof, something that definitely seems to make a lot of sense in the electric-vehicle world, but not something that we've seen as final product as this. I'm wondering if you could tell us a little bit about this vehicle.

Ford Representative: Absolutely. This solar-energy concept is sort of a two-piece concept. One part of it is what you just mentioned -- the solar panels on the roof, which are the most high-efficiency panels on the market today, from SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR).

What we've done is we've taken that and paired it with what's above the vehicle, which is a solar concentrator. With those two things together, it allows the battery of the C-MAX Energi, which is about an 8 kWh battery, to be fully recharged over the course of a day when the car is in the sun, under the concentrator, whereas if it was just the car in the sunlight itself, there's not enough power there to recharge the battery. But once you pair it with the concentrator, that's when you can realize a full charge.

Smith: It seems like a lot of the angst or anxiety that people have with electric vehicles is that recharge time. Given this magnifying glass, effectively, and the solar panel that you're discussing, what kind of a recharge time are we looking at here?

Ford Representative: There's a lot of "it depends" in that -- where you live in the country, and whether it's summer or winter, and things like that -- but generally speaking it would be about a six- to 10-hour recharge time.

You probably are thinking, "Well, I could recharge my car quicker if I plug it into the grid." Absolutely true; the point here is to show customers how you can now take your car off the grid entirely and recharge it with the clean, free power from the sunshine. 

Austin Smith owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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