It's very interesting to when a big auto maker is testing how we'd react to the free energy idea. Even more – presenting it as a grid independent electric vehicle. You put on some (special) solar panels, park it under a (special) acrilyc carport and leave it charging from the sun...
Looks a bit weird the way they designed it. It's pretty simple, save for car moves under the carport, following the sun. That could raise some concerns as people around (kids, colleagues...) likely won't know about the mystic self moving car.
HOW Ford C-MAX SOLAR Energi concept works
Team of Ford engineers mounted a set of special solar panels on top of Ford C-MAX Energi plugin hybrid test vehicle. These are 300-350W SunPower 1.5 sq. m. solar cells, thin and flexible enough to follow the roof line. So far, so good.
Even these latest model advanced cells are far from capable of charging C-MAX's 8 kWh battery alone. So to charge it in a course of a single day using the sunlight, Ford's engineers made a simple carport with a transparent acrylic roof of Fresnel lenses. These were installed to provide 8x concentration of solar power. Here how it works:
But why would you need solar panels on your EV roof, plus "magnifying" carport, when there's solar charging stations? And the car is to be driven, right? If you're going to leave it all day long under the sun, when will you drive it? We assume this concept works if there's such a carport on your company's parking lot where you park in the morning, car stays there and charges during the day.
But to us it's more of a demonstration project to test reactions. Like utility reactions?!? Because they can't be happy that we get the juice for free from the sun, right?
For me and you it's fine (to get a free charge from the sun). OK, if free is not what you would call it (think "there's no free lunch" here), let's name it "free of (additional) charge". Once you get the car and the carport, there's no additional cost, save for the leasing (if that's how you pay it).
It could be a weird look, though... your car moving on its own when it's supposed to stay where it's parked. At least we hope the Fresnel lenses concentrate the sun power only at the solar roof. Or your hood and cabin can get real hot. That picture above shows they do exactly this and they better do as it can turn into a furnace otherwise.
The whole idea is just an extra charging solution – you can still charge the car from the grid. But we better rely on more advanced solar panels, capable of charging on their own, without carports or lenses. Ford's idea's great (saves 4 metric tons of greenhouse gases anually) and we wish them to advance enough with it to make it viable for an efficient cost effective commercial application in a mass EV. Even if it's 5 or 6 years from now...