Real Goods Solar giving away electric Smart Car

Real Goods giving away an electric Smart Car leaseReal Goods Solar, which has given away a 4-kilowatt solar array in a sweepstakes the last three years, is mixing it up with an all-electric Smart Car this year.

The Colorado-based solar company that specializes in third-party leases for residential solar systems, generates excitement about solar with it’s sweepstakes every year when 5,000 to 10,000 people enter to win solar arrays. A lot of them are people who just started thinking about solar for the first time because of the sweepstakes, said Real Goods spokeswoman Amy Bowman. And they’ll keep thinking about solar even if they don’t win.

While the sweepstakes has been an effective marketing tool with just the solar array, Real Goods wanted to add something this year.

Sweepstakes winners will get a three-year lease on an all-electric Smart Car and a 1.5-kilowatts solar system from Real Goods to charge it.

“We wanted to help our customers offset their carbon footprints in a real way,” Bowman said. “And a lot of our consumers are in more urban markets where Smart Cars make a lot of sense.”

The Smart Electric Drive comes in eight different colors. It seats two people and, with a lithium-ion battery from Tesla, has a range of about 84 miles.

“It’s fun and funky and fits with the spirit of Real Goods Solar,” Bowman said.

The cars aren’t yet available in the United States, but Bowman said they will be released in time for the contest winner to be one of the first to have one, though the winner shouldn’t expect to be the only driver in the country.

The car is priced around $25,000 before any tax credits, according to Smart Car’s website. That makes it the most affordable plug-in vehicle on the market.

The sweepstakes is open to residents in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont. The last three contest winners have been from California, Bowman said.

This could be the year to break that cycle.

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