Leaf Electric Car Gets Solar Power Charge

Michael Powers, co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing for San Diego-based Stellar Solar, has been parading around southern California in his new solar-powered 2011 Nissan Leaf, a practice the company seems to believe is both practical and good PR.

The Nissan Leaf doesn’t run directly off the sun. Instead, Powers powers the electric vehicle (EV) with electricity generated by his 3.5 kilowatt residential solar system, an idea Stellar Solar got from one of its customers who has been powering their Mini E electric Mini Cooper for the past year with a Stellar Solar residential system.

Stellar Solar Nissan Leaf

image via Stellar Solar

Powers says that buying an EV and powering it with solar-generated electricity provides a great example of the benefits of both technologies adding, “on a personal cost savings level, I am now driving for around 2 cents per mile (versus 20 cents for a gasoline car) and saving over $2,000 per year on fuel costs alone.” Doing so has apparently gotten him a lot of attention on roads and parking lots around San Diego as well. “People first comment on the innovative design and good looks of the car, then they realize we are powering it with solar and they get very curious,” said Powers.

A graph posted on Stellar Solar’s website puts the potential savings in perspective by showing a cost comparison between a gasoline powered vehicle, an EV and an EV powered by solar. Under Stellar Solar’s paradigm, a 100 mile trip in a gas fueled vehicle that gets 20 mpg costs about $20.00, assuming the gas is priced at $4.00/gallon. By comparison, an electric vehicle powered by solar generated electricity is shown to cover the same distance with a cost of just $2.00.