Ford Offers Solar Charging For its EVs and Hybrids

Ford announced yesterday that it and solar energy provider, SunPower, will begin offering rooftop arrays to provide clean electricity to charge Ford’s growing family of “electrified” vehicles.

The 2.5 kilowatt system will deliver enough energy to provide 3,000 kilowatt hours annually, which Ford estimates will be enough to let a Focus Electric driver travel 1,000 miles per month.

SunPower, which is based in San Jose, Calif., says the photovoltaic cells in its SunPower® E18 Series solar panels are highly efficient, and take up less space than some other systems.

The Ford program calls for 11 panels totaling about 147 square feet of surface area, and will be backed by a 25-year warranty.

Cost of the install after federal subsidies is around $10,000. State and local incentives are available in various localities to further reduce the cost.

The commitment by Ford helps it play catch up to GM which has been installing solar arrays at its assembly plants and dealers.

GM also recently featured several Volt owners recharging using solar arrays they arranged for themselves from other third party contractors.

Obviously the image building value is a real factor along with other more tangible benefits.

Ford’s teaming up with SunPower will also reinforce Ford’s commitment to “electrified vehicles.” Ford has said by 2020 it intends to have electrified as many as 20 percent of its vehicle offerings.

This will be part of Ford’s goal to “stabilize the atmosphere,” according to Mike Tinskey, director of Ford’s global vehicle electrification effort.

“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,” Tinskey said. “It’s an eco-friendly solution that perfectly complements our plug-in products and other green initiatives.”

Ford has also said the company’s “aggressive electrification strategy” includes the launch of five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013.

The first of these, the Transit Connect, was launched late 2010. In addition to the aforementioned Focus Electric, also due are the C-MAX Hybrid, and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, and a fifth vehicle as of yet undisclosed.

Recently Ford got unwanted publicity for quietly postponing the launch of the Focus Electric to 17 of 19 initial launch markets until spring 2012. Previous announcements by Ford said only that the car would be launched late 2011, but now Ford says it had previously told its dealers of the spring release dates, and represented that no plans had actually changed.

As for the SunPower solar array for prospective Ford owners, the purchase includes a residential monitoring system, which includes the ability to track the performance of their solar system on the web or through an iPhone application.

SunPower said it has 400 dealers around the country, and would start the installation process with interested customers by sending a dealer representative to their home.

“SunPower’s innovative partnership with Ford is a win-win for customers, providing a comprehensive sustainability program,” said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. “By taking advantage of this program, Focus Electric customers can receive the added benefit of installing a SunPower solar system, the highest-efficiency, most reliable on the market today, generating the electricity needed to charge their vehicles.”

Naturally, many other solar solutions providers are available, and this is just one that is capable of offering zero-emissions power for plug-in vehicle users.

In January, Ford also announced an agreement with Best Buy to offer a 240-volt home charging station for the Focus Electric and future electric vehicle owners.

“The goal of working with both SunPower and Best Buy was to offer Focus Electric owners solutions to charging needs that help lower the vehicle’s overall cost of ownership,” Tinskey said.

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  • nycsolar

    About charging “stations”… Isn’t the charging logic handled by the car? Why can’t you just plug a 240v cord into a 240v wall socket and plug it into your EV? Does the charging “station” other than being a holder for the cord have any particular purpose? Maybe a guage on it?

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I have a Sunpower solar array that makes my home a net-zero solar home, no utility bills. They make the best panels……


  • James Davis

    Two thumbs up to you, Ford. It is good to see you taking the right step and in the right direction. I think I will keep my 2005 Ford Mustang.

    There is truly only one auto manufacturer in America…Ford, the everything company.

  • Old Man Crowder

    I’m wondering… Can the electricity from this SunPower system be used within your house when not charging the vehicle?

    That would be a nice little perk.

  • Shines

    Better yet Old Man Crowder, in some locations (at least California and Western Washington) not only can you use the power in your home, you can sell any extra power back to your power company and lower your electric bill.
    For example:

  • 99flyer

    The SunPower System is part of the house and produces power during daylight hours for the house to off-set the costs the car will pull from it during the night.

  • jeffhre

    nyc solar, the external charger (EVSE) handshakes and maintains communication with the on-board charger. Charging can commence once the correct signals, voltage and amps are established.

    I don’t see anything wrong with plugging into a NEMA receptacle though. If it’s isolated from other large draws that could trip the control circuits in the EVSE or on-board charger due to current fluctuations or low voltage, it should work just fine.

    Ahem, Jeff Cobb, you testosterone filled cad-a-bout. I can’t believe you’re moonlighting like this on us… 🙂

  • Collin Burnell

    I am reasonably certain that my next vehicle will be the Focus EV, so this article is particularly interesting.

  • david x

    I think So

  • tapra1

    postponing the launch of the Focus Electric to 17 of 19 initial launch markets until spring 2012. Previous announcements by Ford said only that the car would be launched late 2011, but now Ford says it had previously told its dealers of the spring release dates,Best Reseller Hosting

  • Solar Chao

    If you want a high efficiency solar system SunPower is the way to go. You can also use Sanyo HIT modules but they are a little more pricy. Sanyo even has a transparent module which looks pretty good in carports and shading structures. Sanyo calls them Bifacial Modules.

    You can see a picture of the bifacial modules here:

    Solar+hybrid is definitely the way to go if you can afford it.