New Honda Option: PV From SolarCity

Our advice for you new Honda or Acura owners? Say no to the extended warranty but say yes to the solar.

In yet another example of the mainstreaming of solar power, SolarCity and Honda’s U.S. arm are now partnered, with Honda committing $65 million toward discounted SolarCity rooftop installations for car buyers and dealers.

honda solarcity

SolarCity installation at a Honda dealership on Long Island, N.Y. (image via SolarCity)

The press release from the companies didn’t specify exactly how the discount program will work, but Honda told Bloomberg that Honda and Acura buyers would get $400 shaved off the cost of a solar power system installation. Dealers themselves could get in the program as well in the 14 states where SolarCity now operates, including the two biggest rooptop markets, California and New Jersey.

In one sense, this is a case of SolarCity getting capital to finance its business, which is installing solar systems with little upfront costs. The lease and power-purchase sort of deals SolarCity specializes in are fast becoming the primary ways to go solar.

But of course Honda isn’t like Credit Suisse or Citi, financial institutions that have backed SolarCity simply for the return on investment; as a car company, Honda and SolarCity are both seeing tangential benefits to their hookup: Honda gains a green sheen, and SolarCity gets access to customers.

“By making it easier and more affordable for its customers to use clean power, Honda is reinforcing the fact that solar is the new normal,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in a statement. “This is an unprecedented partnership – few companies have made a more substantive or comprehensive commitment to environmental responsibility than Honda.”

Steven Center, vice president of Honda’s Environmental Business Development Office, put it this way: “We believe Honda and Acura customers are going to be very interested in going solar once they find out that they can install solar at their home with little or no upfront cost, can lower their monthly utility bill, and can make a positive contribution to protecting the environment,” Honda’s Steven Center said in a statement.

SolarCity went public, somewhat haltingly, in December, but in early January it reported installing 47 megawatts of solar power in the final three months of 2012, pushing its annual total to 156 MW. That was 10 MW more than it expected to install in 2012, and more than double the 72 MW installed in 2011. While solar manufacturers have struggled in the face of excess capacity, SolarCity has been on an upward trajectory: Its stock, priced at $8 with the IPO, was trading Wednesday afternoon at more than $19.


Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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