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Auto blogFri, 15 Nov 2013
Thu, 02 Jan 2014
Mays is by far not the first designer to use heritage design cues in his work.
The announcement that J Mays will be leaving his chief creative officer role at Ford Motor Company on January 1 ends a 13-year run in one of the industry's top design roles. While best known for having a hand in reborn classics like the Volkswagen New Beetle, Ford Mustang and Thunderbird (above), Mays' legacy is more complicated and nuanced than being considered the father of what is known as "retrofuturism".
Solar energy might not be enough to power a usable electric vehicle on its own, but that doesn't mean it can't lend a helping hand. And that's what Ford has in store for the Consumer Electronics Show opening next week in Las Vegas.
Ford has essentially taken its C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and fitted it with the latest in solar panel technology developed by SunPower, acting like a magnifying glass to capture as much of the sun's energy as possible. So you get the benefit of an electric vehicle, with the range assurance of a hybrid, without needing to draw from the grid.
Ford estimates that a day of charging in the sunshine will give the C-Max Solar Energi concept the same full charge as the production PHEV, with a total range of 620 miles - 21 of which can be run on electric power alone. Otherwise the vehicle - which remains a concept for the time being - is identical to the existing C-Max Energi. The top-selling model in Ford's growing hybrid and electric vehicle portfolio helps put Ford just behind Toyota among the top seller of hybrids in America. Scope out the images in the gallery above and the video clip and press release below for a closer look.
It's a fairly well known fact that removing weight from a car is essentially a panacea for many of the modern automobiles problems. Does it handle like crap? Remove weight. Underpowered? Don't add power; trim the fat. Need to improve fuel economy? It's diet time.
Actually executing a major weight reduction program, though, much like with human beings, is no easy task. Unlike you or I, where motivation is the issue, the prohibitive measure in trimming a car's waistline is money. Lightweight materials are expensive, with carbon fiber and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic still primarily in the domain of higher end vehicles. Even aluminum construction, pioneered on a mass-produced level by Audi and Jaguar, is only now starting to make its way into the mainstream, thanks to the upcoming Ford F-150.
With this concept, though, Ford is attempting to show that a mass-produced, lightweight vehicle isn't too far off. This is the Lightweight Concept, and while it may look like a Fusion, it weighs as much as a Fiesta. For reference, the lightest Fusion available to the public is the 3,323-pound, 2.5-liter model with a manual transmission. A manually equipped, 1.6-liter Fiesta, meanwhile, is just 2,537 pounds.