Ford, Sunpower team up for electric Focus

August 10, 2011 6:58:39 PM PDT
For years, we've heard the future would bring us a solar-powered car, and now the future is here -- sort of.

A new partnership will make it easier to charge plug-in cars using the sun. Ford executive Mike Tinsky gave ABC7 News a sneak peek of the new, fully-electric Ford Focus that's due out in the fall.

"The battery in this vehicle is actually in two spots," Tinsky said. "Half of the batter is under here, where the fuel tank traditionally goes, and the other half is packaged behind the rear seat."

Ford claims that massive battery gives the car a 100 mile range, but charging it could raise your electric bill by $1200 to $1600 every year. That cost is why Ford will offer the car with a new, $10,000 option: Solar panels.

"I want to drive my car off of the thing in the sky," said Sunpower CEO Tom Werner, who added that the eleven panels can provide power to the grid during the day to offset what the Ford Focus draws when you plug in at night.

The net cost to consumers: Sunpower says it won't cost anything.

"If you finance the system, you're actually cash-flow positive in the first month," Werner said.

Ford hasn't said yet how long the battery in the electric Focus is expected to last, or what it will cost to replace. One local energy expert says that information will be key to finding out if the solar-charged electric car will really save consumers money in the long run.

"Electric cars sound very attractive, but when you include in the cost of replacing the batteries, the expense per mile goes way up," said UC Berkeley Physics Professor Richard Muller.

Muller says with past electric cars, it catapulted the cost per mile to three to five times that of gasoline, but Muller concedes there's something to be said for fueling a clean car with clean power.


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