Solar power: The next step in EV innovation?

The latest concept car from one of the world's largest manufacturers could signal the next major phase in the development of green cars.

Ford recently unveiled its C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a hybrid vehicle that goes one step further than currently available EV models - by drawing natural power from the sun instead of relying on the electric grid.

Set to make its official debut at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept eliminates the need to source power from an electrical outlet. Instead, it utilises solar panels installed on the roof to channel energy into the battery, with the help of a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass to focus the sun's rays.

Ford claims the concept car can harness a day's worth of sunlight to deliver the same performance as the electrically powered C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. Additionally, the newer vehicle is set to help motorists cut down greenhouse gas emissions even further - by around four metric tonnes per driver per year, according to Ford.

As fleets across the world continue to seek ways to limit their impact on the environment, a solar powered car could be just what the environmentally conscious fleet manager is looking for.

Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, said the C-MAX Solar Energy Concept highlights the company's commitment to promoting environmental awareness while staying at the forefront of innovation.

"Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept shines a new light on electric transportation and renewable energy," he said in a January 2 statement.

"As an innovation leader, we want to further the public dialog about the art of the possible in moving the world toward a cleaner future."