Ford has unveiled plans for a prototype solar-powered hybrid car. The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car has a solar panel roof supplied by their technology partner SunPower, which draws power from a special solar concentrator lens similar to a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to solar panels on the vehicle roof.

With a full charge, the solar car is estimated to have a total range of up to 620 miles.

Ford report that the sun could power up to 75 percent of all trips made by an average driver in a solar hybrid vehicle. This could be especially important in places where the electric grid is underdeveloped, unreliable or expensive to use.

Because of the extended time it takes to absorb enough energy to fully charge the vehicle, Ford turned to Georgia Institute of Technology for a way to amplify the sunlight in order to make a solar-powered hybrid feasible for daily use.

Researchers developed an off-vehicle solar concentrator that uses a special Fresnel lens to direct sunlight to the solar cells while boosting the impact of the sunlight by a factor of eight. Fresnel is a compact lens originally developed for use in lighthouses. Similar in concept to a magnifying glass, the patent-pending system tracks the sun as it moves from east to west, drawing enough power from the sun through the concentrator each day to equal a four-hour battery charge (8 kilowatts).

After the concept car is shown at CES, Ford and Georgia Tech will begin testing the vehicle in numerous real-world scenarios. The outcome of those tests will help to determine if the concept is feasible as a production car.

Ford sold more plug-in vehicles in October and November last year than both Toyota and Tesla, and it outsold Toyota through the first 11 months of 2013