Ford plugs in SunPower
The strategic partnership between automaker, Ford, and solar power company, SunPower Corp., is the kind of synergistic investment in clean, energy efficient transportation many have been waiting for. Sustainable Industries took a peak behind the scenes to see what kinds of investments led up to this brilliant idea, enabling SunPower Corp. to provide affordable, efficient rooftop solar power units, suitable for charging the average commuter’s electric vehicle (EV).
Here’s what we found: Back in April, Total SA, one of the world’s largest petroleum companies, bought 60 percent stake in the San Jose, CA based SunPower Corp., empowering (no pun intended) big bucks investment in solar energy that has enabled the kinds of strategic partnerships and financing that SunPower is now offering. When the French oil company, Total, became SunPower’s biggest shareholder, SunPower got about $1 billion in credit support over the next five years, making solar financing projects, such as the latest partnership with Ford, cheaper and easier for consumers.
SunPower Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner says, of the investment, ‘The idea is, how do you run an entrepreneurial Silicon Valley company and leverage the balance sheet of a top 20 company?’ With the housing market still in a major lull, and gas prices unstable and ever rising, it would make sense for a solar power company to target the active energy culprit Americans are eager to invest in: electric-powered cars.
Through the “Drive Green for Life’ program, Ford’s Focus Electric vehicle owners reduce their total cost of ownership by generating enough energy through their 2.5 kilowatt SunPower rooftop solar system to accommodate driving their EV about 1,000 miles per month. This also offsets the energy that would otherwise come from coal-burning power plants.
While Ford has not announced official pricing information on the Focus Electric yet, it is expected to be priced at $30K USD, after $7,500 USD federal tax credit.
The SunPower system is set to retail for $10,000 USD after federal tax credits, though customers may be able to get an even lower price based on local and state tax credits. Depending on how much the customer drives and the policy of local utilities, customers may potentially be able to sell excess power back to the grid.
SunPower also provides customers with the option to buy two connected systems for heavier driving, if they have the roof space (approximately 150 sq.ft. per system). Two systems would provide roughly 65 miles a day of drive distance.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with electric vehicle solar power charging systems.