Ford and SunPower

If you’re interested in all-electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric, it’s likely that you’re apprehensive about the purchase. Electric vehicle range is limited to about 100 miles in ideal conditions, and the United States doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to support drivers who need to recharge mid-trip.

Ford and SunPower, a company that makes solar panels, have teamed up to make owning a Focus Electric more practical, saying the Focus Electric’s rooftop solar system will help offset charging costs.

Ford says the SunPower E18 Series panels that can be installed on the Focus Electric can generate an average of 3,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. According to Kicking Tires, this equals about 1,000 electric miles that are derived from free solar energy. “The 1,000-mile estimate of solar-assisted charging does not directly go into the EV, said Ford spokesman Dan Pierce,” Kicking Tires adds. “The key word here is ‘offset.’ Because most folks drive their cars during the day, the aim is to offset the potential ‘dirty’ energy you’re using to charge your EV at night by piping clean solar energy into the grid during the day. Theoretically, if you drive less than 1,000 miles a month the added energy will lead to lower utility bills.”

The optional solar panels will cost about $10,000, including installation and federal tax credits. The system is expensive, says Inside Line, but will “be a compelling choice for the greenest consumers.” It’s possible that local and state rebates can decrease the cost more, depending on location. Interested shoppers should talk to their Ford dealer.

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