Although solar cells integrated into a car’s roof is not a new concept, the combination of an off-grid Fresnel lens canopy to boost cell efficiency and potentially remain off grid for charging certainly is.
The Ford ‘C-MAX Solar Energi’ concept car employs SunPower’s ‘Maxeon’ high-performance cells but as with most embedded automotive roof PV systems is insufficient in size to provide meaningful battery recharging.
Ford is looking at employing a static canopy using solar concentrator lenses as per a version of CPV technology to boost recharging, by using autonomous car technology to move the car underneath the canopy to optimise conversion efficiencies and reduce battery recharging times.
The off-grid solution is said to draw enough power in a day to equal a four-hour battery charge (8 kilowatts).
However, the vehicle still retains a charge port, so that drivers can recharge via the grid.