Ariel Schwartz reports on Ford's new C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, which was unveiled last week. The concept vehicle is "a version of the C-MAX plug-in hybrid that's outfitted with 16 square feet of photovoltaic panels on its roof. The vehicle, which takes six to seven hours to charge fully, can run on solar energy for 21 miles before switching to gasoline."
Though the car's lengthy charging period and limited range limit its practicality, there's reason to be optimistic. "In theory, there are a few advantages compared to traditional plug-in electric vehicles," Schwartz explains. "Solar-powered cars are cheaper, since they don't require costly power from utilities, and they are guaranteed to be powered by 100% renewable energy."
In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, John O'Dell, senior editor for the Edmunds.com auto information website, was circumspect in his analysis: "It sounds like an interesting experiment. I'm not sure it has much real-world application."
Thanks to Irvin Dawid