By Mark Hachman:

Ford Motor and SunPower agreed to a partnership on Tuesday that will allow purchasers of Ford plug-in vehicles the ability to charge their cars, including the upcoming Ford Focus Electric.

Customers who buy the Ford-SunPower “Drive Green for Life” program will pay $10,000 and receive a 2.5-kilowatt-hr solar-powered charging station, complete with SunPower’s solar panels and the electrical equipment secured with lockout tagout kits. (The system is rated for 33,000 kWh per month.) That price includes federal rebates, but not state or local rebates, so the price could end up being lower, executives said.

The Drive Green for Life program will install enough panels to satisfy the energy demands for an electric vehicle that drives about 1,000 miles per month. The $10,000 price tag does not include roof modifications or excessive wiring.
Ford Focus Electric

By pairing an electric vehicle with a solar array, consumers won’t substitute a smokestack for a tailpipe, executives said – in other words, the power that charges the Focus Electric will come from the sun, and not a “dirty” form of power, like coal. Moreover, by buying a solar charger, users could prepay all of the car’s fuel costs for its lifespan.

“This is taking solar mainstream,” said Tom Werner, SunPower’s president and chief executive, at the company’s Richmond, Calif. facility.

The electricity will feed down to a charger that will connect to the Ford Focus Electric or the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicle Ford plans for 2012. The Ford Focus Electric has an average range of 100 miles.

Mike Tinskey, Ford’s director of global vehicle electrification and infrastructure said that the charger infrastructure has been standardized across Ford and other carmakers, so that a user buying a SunPower installation now will be able to use it with future EVs, both from Ford and other carmakers.

Ford hasn’t disclosed the price of the Focus Electric, nor is it disclosing its production numbers, Tinskey said Instead, buyers will walk into a Ford dealership and order the Ford Focus Electric, then wait six weeks for it to be manufactured and delivered. During that time, he said, the dealer and SunPower will install the panels on the customer’s roof and install the charger so that it’s ready by the time the car arrives.

The SunPower/Ford charger lacks any sort of battery, SunPower executives said; instead, the system feeds electricity to the grid during the day, when it is needed most; at night, the electrical grid itself charges the car, but at a lower cost for the consumer.

The SunPower E18 panels are guaranteed to generate 80 percent of the rated power over a 25-year lifespan; the amount of power the panels will actually generate varies from city to city, so a customer installation in Phoenix, for example, will probably generate more power than an installation in Portland, Ore.

SunPower has a dealer presence in all of the 19 markets the Focus Electric will be launched in, Werner said.

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