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