Ford, SunPower Team to Offer Solar Charged EVs, Plug-ins

One of the barriers that’s preventing acceptance of plug-ins and electric cars (EVs) is that when people charge the car they’re using energy from the grid, which today comes largely from fossil fuels.

The goal has always been to charge EVs using renewable energy, and Ford Motor and SunPower are teaming to make that possible.

Customers who buy Ford’s electric Focus or plug-in C-Max Energi in 2012 will be able to charge their car using solar, potentially  providing a new application for the solar industry and differentiating Ford’s line-up.

Under the "Drive Green for Life" program, customers can buy a  2.5-kilowatt-hour solar-powered charging station for under $10,000. That price includes federal rebates, but additional state and local rebates could lower the price to as little as $4600.

The system will end up costing about $5.50 per kilowatt, about 30% below the lower end of solar costs in California.

It will generate an average of 3000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to charge a vehicle driven about 1,000 miles a month. The companies are pitching it as a way to reduce the total cost of ownership.

When someone buys a Ford EV, they’ll be offered the option of also purchasing the solar charger. If they choose that option, the dealer will set up a time for SunPower to visit their house to make sure it can accommodate solar, and to install the charger panels on the roof.  

The idea for the partnership came from focus groups, where people often asked how renewable energy could be tied to EVs.

The charger infrastructure will be standardized across Ford and other carmakers – it will be useable for EVs from all carmakers going forward. 

In May, Ford announced it’s preparing to launch a line of EVs globally and is working on "intelligent" vehicles that can lead to more sustainable transportation.  The company plans for  25% of its global fleet to be electric by 2020.

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