Good Day Sunshine: Ford and SunPower Team Up
'Drive Green For Life' initiative puts the power of the sun in the hands of the people.
Grab a seat at any hip establishment where libations are served and enlightened consumers congregate, and if you wait long enough the discussion will inevitably turn to electric cars. Not hybrids, mind you, but electric-only vehicles: who makes them, their mileage range, if the air conditioning works in the real world, and the type and quantity of batteries required. Facts and figures will become distorted as the drinks shrink and the collective buzz grows. Conspiracy enthusiasts will decry how the only thing preventing them from owning a sub-$10,000 fully electric car with batteries composed of wheat chaff and cow dung is a vast conspiracy perpetuated by the U.S. government and the vaguely sinister “oil companies.”
It's usually around this time when the cynic -- there's one in every crowd -- chimes in with something like this: “Yeah, well, you'd still have to recharge it, and more than 68% of the electricity in the U.S. is produced from fossil fuels, mainly coal. And more than half of the remaining 32% comes from nukes.” As much fun as it would be to burst his negativity bubble wide open under the weight of statistics, generic guy-in-a-bar is right.
With five all-electric vehicles slated for release in the next year, no one is more aware of this discussion than Ford. But with yesterday's announcement that Ford and SunPower Corp. have teamed up to provide owners of the Focus Electric with a 2.5-kilowatt residential solar-panel installation, the cynical roar of doubt may be reduced to a mere rumble.
In a live videoconference yesterday, Mike Tinskey, Ford's associate director of global electrification infrastructure, said SunPower and Ford had been working on this partnership for about six months. Interestingly, the official launch of the so-called Drive Green for Life partnership was held at SunPower’s Richmond, Calif., facility, which served as a Ford assembly plant for Model A cars in the 1930s.
Ken Fong, general manager of SunPower's North American residential and light commercial business unit, said, “Based on SunPower customer surveys, there is overlap with hybrid vehicle ownership and EV interest. This made us interested in finding a partner on the EV side. We have found that we have a lot of shared interests with Ford."
Capable of producing 3,000 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity per year, the system is composed of SunPower E18 series panels, and was sized to accommodate an electric-vehicle owner who drives about 1,000 miles per month. “SunPower panels are the most efficient in the world, some 50% more efficient than standard solar panels,” Fong said. More than 400 authorized SunPower dealers are ready to handle installations here in the States, and the system is warrantied by SunPower for 25 years.
Aha! Clean, free transportation -- the holy grail for the daily commuter. I told you the oil companies were behind this! Oh yeah, I left out one detail: You have to buy the system, and it's far from free. As Fong so diplomatically put it in the video conference, “If a homeowner uses a SunPower customer-finance package, he can be cash-flow-positive from day one. It costs less than $100 a month for the entire solar package, including installation. Most people spend more than that in a month for gasoline.”
If you figure the 1,000 miles per month for which the system was designed, at an average of 27 mpg and paying $4.00 per gallon, you'll be spending about $150.00 a month on fuel. Fong speaks the truth.
But you can't hide from the bottom line: With federal tax credits, the complete SunPower system retails, with installation, for just less than $10,000. Communities such as Raleigh, N.C., are benefiting from so many local and state tax incentives that the price for the Drive Green for Life system shrinks to a comparatively bargain-priced $4,600.
That's pretty good news. So if you're the cynical type, stay out of trendy bars in Raleigh.
Natural gas for large trucks local deliveries, Fed Ex,UPS,PO,Cabs and All Government vehicles. If the federal tax is dropped big oil will raise the price.
They are not providing they are selling, there is a big difference and that difference is $10,000. I want to buy the car and not have to do anything else, the vehicle needs to charge itself with built in solar panels or some type of regenerative system.
Solar and electric will only become practical and truly feasable when they get all the old gas guzzlers off the road. Then they can make lighter cars that wont get squashed or sent to the moon if you're in an accident. Cars as light as golf carts wouldnt do too well on todays highways, against todays traffic.
I will never own another gas fueled car. Car pollution is the number one contributor to climate change. Sooner or later we just have to do it. For our own good.
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