We had an opportunity to review the Ford C-Max Energi back in the summer, and one of our biggest complaints was due to the lack of charging stations that the break-even on the car would be next to impossible. Electricity costs money, and with a 20 mile range very little time would be spent on the cheaper electricity. For those who like the idea of a zero-emissions vehicle, but are worried about range anxiety, and live in a place where recharging stations aren’t everywhere, then perhaps the C-Max Solar Energi concept is the solution? The Solar Energi is capable of running off traditional gasoline, a wall-charger for electricity, or solar power. Ford took the opportunity to show off their concept at the 2014 International CES.
Electric vehicle charging stations are still a rarity in North America. They are showing up in new places each and every day, but they are still not as available as a gasoline station. Also, while people may install a charging station at home to quick charge their vehicle, they may not have a charging solution when they get to work. For many, that means some of the day driving in gasoline, which hurts overall economy.
The Solar Energi will harness the power of the sun to recharge the EV battery so less time will be required to be plugged into the grid to charge, or if the vehicle is parked in a place where the grid is not available, charge exclusively from the sun. Like all plug-in hybrids, there is still a traditional fuel tank for those who have range anxiety or want to take a trip.
We like seeing the addition of a solar panel for charging the battery. The Prius’ solar panel only is used to power electronics and the air conditioning unit when the vehicle is turned off. Actually being able to add range to the full-electric mode is much more useful and should help sell the vehicle to more people. Being a concept, we are unsure when it will go on sale or even if it will go on sale, but we would not be surprised to see it in the next year or two on dealer lots across the country (or at least where there is a lot of sunshine).