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Companies ranging in size from small startups to major automakers have been experimenting with solar-powered charging stations for EVs and plug-in hybrids. And, of course, people have been powering vehicles with onboard solar panels for quite some time, too. Still, Ford's new C-Max Solar Energi Concept shows the promise of a truly practical implementation of solar on a production vehicle, and it may not be as far off in the future as we had thought.
As we reported a few days ago, the Solar concept makes use of a "concentrator lens" that focuses sunlight onto the Ford's roof-mounted solar panels. The special lens follows the rays of the sun to maximize the amount of charge being fed to the batteries of the car, taking about a day to fully charge the 21-mile, all-electric range of the C-Max Energi. Ford data suggests that combination might be enough to power 75 percent of all trips made by a statistically average driver. In turn, using the sun to power a vehicle could reduce yearly C02 emissions by up to four metric tons when compared with the driver of an average gasoline-powered sedan.
We've got live images of the C-Max Solar Energi Concept, jauntily tilted on its display to best present it's signature solar panels, straight from the CES floor.
I'm not overly inclined to professional jealousy, as a rule. Sure, I go a bit green around the eyes when Ramsey draws the 911 GT3 trip to Weissach, Harley is tapped-in to drive a completely stunning Porsche 911 by Singer, or, you know, Drew Phillips gets to shoot a Lamborghini Veneno in the middle of a desert like some sort of sheik. I hate you guys...
Honestly though, one of the new car events that dug me the most, was when our Steven J. Ewing got to fling the Ford Fiesta ST around some hot corner of Europe. What goes around comes around, I suppose, as Mr. Ewing himself espoused an envious nature of the Focus ST trip that came before.
The good news in all this covetous intra-office behavior? All the cars mentioned, and specifically the Fiesta ST, are just wonderful to drive. I can say that with more confidence than ever now, having joined Ford for a good bit of Fiesta-flinging myself. In my case, the locale was slightly more pedestrian (Michigan not Portugal), and the car in question was the five-door version of the Fiesta ST that we get here in The States, as opposed to the three-door number they get across the pond.
The U.S. News Best Cars for the Money Awards picks winners by looking at the average transaction price, five-year total cost of ownership, the regard a car has from the automotive press, reliability figures from J.D. Power and Associates and safety data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The result, according to the magazine, is "the best combination of critical acclaim and long-term value."
Ford nabbed six of the 21 categories that received awards this year, the Focus, Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, Taurus, Escape and Edge getting trophies. Toyota and its Lexus and Scion sub-brands took another five, the Tacoma and Tundra owning the two categories given to pickup trucks. The other ten awards were split between Honda with three, Buick with two, and one each for Subaru, BMW, Hyundai, Chevrolet and Mazda.
Follow the link to see all the winners and read about why they were chosen.