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Ford and SunPower offer rooftop solar panels to offset electricity used to charge EVs


August 18, 2011

Ford and SunPower have teamed up to offer rooftop solar panels to Ford EV buyers

Ford and SunPower have teamed up to offer rooftop solar panels to Ford EV buyers

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Although electric vehicles can claim to be greener by producing zero local emissions, the electricity used to charge their batteries needs to come from somewhere. For most people, that somewhere is usually a fossil fuel-powered power station, lessening the green credentials of such vehicles. In an effort to let drivers go the extra green mile, Ford and solar technology company SunPower have teamed up to offer buyers of Ford's upcoming EVs a discounted rooftop solar system to provide enough renewable energy to offset the electricity used to charge the vehicles.

The "Drive Green for Life" program will allow Ford Electric vehicle buyers in the U.S. to have a 2.5 kW rooftop solar system installed at a base price of less than US$10,000. This price takes into account federal tax credits but not local sales tax, however, the companies say other incentives, such as local and state rebates, may reduce the price even more. The price includes standard installation and a residential monitoring system, which provides the ability to track the solar system's performance over the web or via an iPhone app.

The rooftop system is comprised of SunPower's E18 solar panels that the company claims produce an average of 3,000 kWh of electricity annually. It says that this is approximately 50 percent more electricity than conventional panels so they are able to take up less space on the roof. The system on offer is sized to suit customers who drive about 1,000 miles (1,609 km) a month.

"Under the 'Drive Green for Life' program, Focus Electric owners can reduce their total cost of ownership by generating enough energy from their high efficiency SunPower rooftop solar system to offset the electricity required to charge the vehicle at night," said Mike Tinskey, Ford director of Global Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure. "It's an eco-friendly solution that perfectly complements our plug-in products and other green initiatives."

Ford is scheduled to begin sales of its Focus Electric in U.S. markets later this year and plans to launch a total of five electric vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013.

Source: Ford

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Yes! This is more like it! Come on Jordan. Use that sun!

Alison Patricia Heathcote

3k kwh anually? that is $300 worth of electricity? So I give you 10k doll the federal government throws in some money to and you give me $300 dollars worth of electricity per year... lol So I live for 30 years, don\'t move, I will get that money back. LOL oh wait I forgot, solar panels become less effective every year, I am guessing it would take 100 years to get a pay off. The funny thing is once we start using nuclear power more, electricity prices will drop..

Michael Mantion

This idea is even better if one can add to the panels and still use the same inverters.

Carlos Grados

Pretty pricey. And no mention if you can roll that cost into your car mortgage. If so, I might be tempted...but like Michael Mantion said, the solar panels don\'t last forever and I might still be paying on the car and them when the batteries give out. Not ready for prime time.

Neil Larkins

How about passengers generating power for the battery? I think that these electric cars need pedals that the pasengers can exercise on to heat the car...cool the car and even get a few extra miles from a battery that might otherwise of been depleated.This calls for us to put a little \"effort\" into making this electric car revolution start to happen.I am over weight and think it would be really great to burn some calories while riding along as a passenger.Someone has to invent this scaled down treadmill \"DC\"battery charger..it might plug into the cigarette lighter or have some kind of cable connection and a place on the dash where it could plug in like a speaker into the back of a radio or computer.The electric car of the future could be set up as a mini gym with the bicycle station in the front passenger area and places in each back seat for maybe arm or leg exercises that could also be connected to the battery generation.I am also a \"fan\" on having a wind tunnel built into the architecture of the car so that as the car moves forward the the force of the wind would spin a fan and generate extra power.Going down hill...push on the break pedal and the opening could increase in size causing more wind resistance,generating more power and braking the car a the same time.


With no payback (33 years, LOL) I suspect this is another PR release. Only the wealthy or the math challenged will buy this. If photovoltaic was competitive with subsidies why not put up a system big enough for 2 cars and the house?

And how did they come up with a savings of $300/mo.? They need to give us the electricity cost they used. Any doubt it\'s high?

I\'ve been waiting 20 years for this and I\'m not impressed. Back to the drawing board boys.


This is the only way electric cars will work without suffocating us all with the coal burning electric plants. Personally I believe each house should have solar panels. Instead of our govenment subsidizing oil (where the burning of it causes harm to all life on earth) we should be rebuilding our world (one neighborhood or city at a time) to create solar energy. I am sorry our country has become so dependent on an energy that is killing its client... A painful but life preserving change has to happen and happen now. Please read The Storms of Our Grandchildren by a brilliant Scientist named Dr. James Hansen. He has been confided in by the last three Presidents to determine the carbon danger and global warming for the last 40 years. The book will underline the critical time frame we are working with. God Bless our struggling little Planet.

Future Hope

As a matter of fact... the excellent mathematicians here err on the stupid side. True, 33 years is a tad more than expected lifetime of the panels. (You can probably get some 25 years max.) On the other hand, gas is likely to rise MUCH more than $4 within that time (you can take it for granted it will be much higher in no time) AND the cost of other energies will follow. (The cost of other energies would NOT go the other \"contrary\" way OR in what world of fantasy do you live in?? How do you know that you will get \"cheap\" nuclear - given Fukushima fear/irrationality among people??! Not likely to happen. The most massively naive people here may even believe Rossi and his e-cat ...not real even in a fantasy world.)

Photovoltaics may go cheaper BUT this will not happen without the first adopters who NOW pay premium. And you, excellent mathematicians, call them stupid.

As a matter of fact if EVERYBODY in the US had an electric Focus AND this system, (I mean, if they could afford it...but WHY NOT?)imagine what wast amount of stupidity would get AVOIDED: no STUPID oil wars...You have them because of Bush (and now Obama too). Energy security... Also, if everybody had this ---with massive support from the enthusiastic end user (ha, ha, like you) --- the price would go down too.

But this is not going to happen because, guess what, we have excellent mathematicians here!


This is a \"mathematical supplement\":

Imagine you spend $2000 a year for gas. This is likely to be conservative for many people today, and surely with rising gas prices it will be VERY cheap in future. If there is a sure thing in life it is death, taxes and gas going up.

At that cost you have the panels paid for in 5 x $2000 - in 5 years (and still a possibly as much as two decades of lifetime left in them)

Focus gas is 16.500. Focus electric is in between $30 000 and $37 000 before tax credit. Nobody knows yet.

If Focus electric goes for the former price you have it for $22 500 after tax credit, which makes for $6 000 difference you can get back in 3 x $2000 - in 3 more years.

After that time -(5 years for panels and 3 years for the difference in price) - after 8 years - you drive for free, and you still have significant life in your panels and some time left in your car battery pack.

If the latter case is true and Focus is overpriced you add 4.5 years. Now you are pushing the battery warranty on your car but even then you are still about to break even. Your panels are only half-way through. With your second Focus (or a second battery pack....the car itself may last longer due to less mechanical failure points) you will drive for free much sooner.

You are likely to save on the running cost of the electric over gas Focus.

And as sure as death and taxes the gas will be twice or three times more by then...

Sure...you have limited range with an electric car...but with some lead time the charging stations are likely to appear all around. If delivered as promissed, even those 100 miles are not that bad...It is not elegant...but even today you can fix yourself a \"range extender\" with a trailer hitch with a regular gas generator. OR just rent a car for that one special extra week in a year you drive farther - you still will have saved. If there is market better range extenders will be available: think gas micro turbines you can put into the trunk and still have some suitcase space left.

...To sum up: depending on the price of the car yet to be decided/announced Focus electric, including those costly panels, can be still an excellent or at least acceptable value.


Hmm not sure about the Ford dog box but, this car here:


With a combination roof / bonnet cells as a general top up - since they usually are parked outside in the sun at least 8 hours a day AND a car port / garage / house based solar arrays as the primary charge source......

That also feed the grid and localised charge points...

I mean - for the average people, most of the time, under most circumstances, with charge points across the country - will cover almost all transport needs.


Mr Stiffy
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