New Ford Patent Depicts A Wild, Inflatable, Solar-Powered EV Charging Bubble

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While it’s easy to assume that every single patent filed by an automaker will inevitably become reality, we know by now that this isn’t the case. In fact, we’ve seen many a Ford patent come along that never saw the light of day. But as they say, we just never know what might happen. Some day in the future, we might be seeing the fruits of this latest Ford patent for an inflatable, solar-powered shield of sorts to charge our electric vehicles. Stranger things have happened, right?

Automakers and entrepreneurs have been trying to harness the power of the sun to run vehicles for many years now, but now that we’re on the cusp of an electric vehicle revolution, it seems more plausible than ever. Just think – a car that can charge itself on a sunny day while simply driving down the road. In the case of this particular Ford patent, however, we won’t be driving around while it’s deployed.

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That’s because this contraption consists of a roof-mounted device that encases the entire vehicle in a “bubble” or “shield” of solar panels with the flip of a switch. Talk about a fun party trick. Ford originally filed this patent application back on November 8th, 2019, and it was just recently published on May 14th, 2020.

The Ford patent application describes this interesting concept as a “flexible shield” that unfolds via an inflation pump that is powered by stored solar energy. The cover itself is comprised of flexible thin-lay solar cells that, once deployed, maintain their shape using memory polymer. To activate it, the driver simply flips a switch that determines whether the solar panel cocoon goes into “an extended or stowed state.”

This isn’t the first time Ford has explored the idea of solar power. Back in 2014, the C-Max Solar Energi Concept utilized a roof-mounted solar panel to produce a claimed 8 kilowatts of power to help charge the plug-in hybrid’s battery.

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A future in which electric vehicles can charge themselves while they’re sitting outside in a protective cocoon is a great utopia, though it’s worth noting that solar energy isn’t exactly the most efficient means of doing so. But perhaps by wrapping an entire vehicle in solar panels rather than just using one singular panel on the roof, this Ford patent might just be on to something. If nothing else, we can’t wait to see this concept in action.

We’ll continue bringing you the latest on Ford patents and future tech for you, so be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford business news, Ford patent news, and around-the-clock Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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6 Comments

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  1. And we all remember how big of a hit the Cmax was in the market. I can’t help but think this somehow relates to the other story about the stock price falling 7% for the week.
    When is this Hackett era going to end? Please Ford directors and Ford family, get rid of this guy.

    • This idea can be revived for the new Ford electrics, including the Mustang Mach-E. While the Mach-E s parked and covered, you get free charging and shade at the same time!

  2. What would get me to switch to an electric vehicle would be removable battery packs. If you could pop the hood, and have two packs with handles that can be easily removed and carried inside to charge, I could do that at work and home. Maybe if each weighed about 40 lbs or so, and gave enough energy for a total of about twenty miles, it would be ideal for me. A larger fixed battery could still be in place for the need to plug in for longer trips.

    • Tesla experimented with removable battery packs for the Model S, even demonstrating a 90 second replacement process (much faster than any human!), yet it failed, and no Model S owner does that. Just buy the EV and charge it overnight. If you need more range, then get a hybrid, instead, or change your lifestyle to drive less and cleaner.

  3. Does Ford not remember the solar sunroof from the 1980-2000 era from Honda/Acura or Nissan/Lexus? .It weighed a ton and failed to deliver enough power to open the thing. And would anyone think it would be fun to “POP” the bubble? Like a woodpecker or just a kid with a stick? Again, how easy would it be to steal the bubble? It should work as a camper’s solar generator. Just hang it over your tent.
    Ford, think through the “Better Ideas” before you blurt them out.

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