SunPower teams up with auto manufacturers to roll out solar

SunPower teams up with auto manufacturers to roll out solarSunPower’s new partnership with Nissan to market to Leaf buyers is the next step in a clever marketing campaign for the solar company.

SunPower announced a partnership with Nissan earlier this week to publish educational and promotional materials about solar and specifically about SunPower on the Leaf Web site. That move follows closely on the heals of another announcement earlier this year that SunPower would partner with Ford to offer solar panels at a set discounted price to the auto manufacturer’s electric-vehicle customers.

“This is a natural pairing for us as we see similar customers,” SunPower CEO Tom Werner said. “So joining forces with a major global automakers makes a lot of sense to us.”

He said the campaign with Nissan customers is more about education, and there are no specific systems, guidelines or predetermined discounts, Werner said.

“Nissan found SunPower an ideal partner because they have confidence in how we’ll work with their customers while selling them the highest efficiency, highest reliability solar system on the market today with guaranteed performance,” Werner said.

The Leaf is rolling onto dealer lots around the country right now. And sales are expected to be hot right off the bat as buyers scurry to take advantage of the $7,5000 Federal tax credit.

Tax and utility credits for solar installations will also likely be higher before the end of this year than they will be in 2012, according to industry analysts.

“We wouldn’t be surprised at all if electric vehicle buyers scale up their SunPower solar systems because once installed, customers will see the incredible benefits,” Werner said. “Solar incentives in many states favor larger systems that address both the EV and the home loads.”

He said financing has gotten easier as well.

Ford won’t start getting its lineup of electric vehicles on lots until next spring, but the partnership is already forged.

“Our partnership with Ford is a dealership-based model,” Werner said. “Ford is tied to a special offer on SunPower solar systems and a specified nationwide price for a solar system that offsets the power the average driver uses to charge their car.”