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Ford to Sell Solar Panel System Alongside Electric Cars

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Ford Motor Company is teaming up with San Jose-based solar panel maker SunPower to offer a rooftop solar system option which will be sold alongside the upcoming Ford Focus EV. The “Drive Green for Life” program, as it’s being called, involves mounting solar panels on a customer’s home.

These panels wouldn’t be used just to charge the Focus itself, however. They actually help offset the cost that comes with having to charge the car, something which most electric car owners do every night.

The 2.5 kilowatt solar panel system would offset the cost of about 1,000 miles per month, says Ford. After federal tax credits, the cost of the system would be around $10,000. Some local and state rebates may also be available, but it’s still a fairly pricey system.

At least Ford and SunPower are targeting the appropriate demographic. The option should appeal to environmentalists who want to buy an electric car, but don’t want to  feel guilty about consuming all the extra electricity needed to charge it. After all, it’s not really that “green” to drive electric when you’re charging your car using fossil fuels.

The solar system itself consists of 147 square feet of rooftop panels. There are 11 panels, measuring 4 feet by 2 feet. Customers will be able to monitor the panels’ performance online and via a specially designed iPhone app. SunPower also provides a 25-year warranty for the system, which is installed at customers’ homes by Best Buy’s Geek Squad. Best Buy also has the contract with Ford to install the home chargers.

Pricing and an exact launch date for the new 2012 Ford Focus isn’t available yet, but the car will go on sale first in California and New York in Q4 2011. Ford also plans to launch 5 other electric or hybrid-electric models in 2012 in North America, and in Europe by 2013.