When Ford rolls out its lineup of electric and electric-hybrid vehicles in 2012, new owners will have the option of installing a solar array at their homes to offset the electricity they use to charge their vehicles.
Ford partnered with SunPower for its “Drive Green for Life” program, which offers a 2.5-kilowatt rooftop solar system.
The system will be installed on the new Ford owner’s home roof and connected to the grid. The idea is for the system to generate enough power to completely make up for the expense of charging the electric vehicle at night.
“Ford looked at early adopters for the electric vehicle,” said Daniel Pierce, spokesman for Ford. “Those are also people who tend to be very passionate about the environment, and they also tend to be early adopters of solar power.”
He said Ford wanted to make the decision easier for electric vehicles to go even greener.
“This is a great way to help people ‘green’ their lives,” Pierce said.
The system is designed to produce enough power to charge a Ford for an average of 1,000 miles of driving each month. Any energy the car doesn’t need goes back into the grid. And most utility companies offer some sort of incentive to homeowners who install solar.
The incentives are often in the form of net metering, which allows owners to bank kilowatt hours generated against kilowatt hours used and earn discounts on their electricity bills. Many utilities even pay a premium for renewable energy production.
The SunPower array comes equipped with a home monitoring system, according to a press release.
Renewable energy experts have estimated that electric vehicle batteries could one day be used as energy storage for the grid. The mass promotion of solar installations to accompany new electric vehicles could be the first step in that direction.
The SunPower installation is expected to cost about $10,000 after federal tax rebates. While that price does not include local sales taxes, it also doesn’t include any state or local utility incentives for solar installations.
“The deal itself offers solar at a drastically reduced price,” Pierce said. “We found that with state and local rebates, the complete cost of the system can be as low as $5,500 in some places.”
He said the price point is likely to entice some Ford buyers who were considering solar anyway to take the plunge and purchase the system.
The solar electric vehicle charging station will work not only on Ford’s new fully-electric Focus, but also on some of the company’s other vehicles. Ford is releasing five electrified cars in 2012. Another that would be able to use the new solar electric vehicle chargers is the Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in hybrid, which is Ford’s crossover utility vehicle in its greenest form.
“We expect the partnership will be very popular,” Pierce said.