News Column

Honda, SolarCity to Offer Solar Power Systems

Feb. 21, 2013

Brent Snavely

Honda is teaming up with San Mateo, Calif.-based SolarCity Corp. to get into the solar power business.

The automaker and SolarCity announced a partnership Wednesday to finance $65 million in solar system projects for homeowners and dealers.

Initially, Honda was planning to simply offer the financing to its dealers, said Steve Center, Honda's vice president of business development.

But Center said an industry-wide push towards the adoption of hybrid and plug-in electric cars, along with Honda's environmentally conscious customer base, the automaker decided to extend the deal to its customers.

And not just new Honda and Acura buyers either.

"Really, anyone who has ever owned a Honda or Acura is eligible," Center said. "And even people that inquire about energy efficient products on our Web site and sign up for news about them would be eligible...When you are trying to save the world, you don't want to be picky about which house you start with."

The program provides Honda and Acura customers with a $400 discount on top of SolarCity's normal installation and lease contracts.

Typically, the installation cost for a small residential system could cost several thousand dollars if it is all paid upfront, said Ryan Harty, assistant manger of Honda's environmental business development office.

"So $400 is a significant portion of that payment," Harty said.

Center said Honda and SolarCity both have contributed money towards a $65 million investment fund to finance the solar panel power systems.

To be eligible, consumers do need to live in SolarCity's 14-state service area, which excludes Michigan.

SolarCity's service region includes: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and the District of Columbia.

The partnership also brings Honda together with Tesla CEO and entrepreneur Elon Musk. Musk is the chairman and principal shareholder of SolarCity.

"This is an unprecedented partnership--few companies have made a more substantive or comprehensive commitment to environmental responsibility than Honda," SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in a statement.

Source: (c)2013 the Detroit Free Press Distributed by MCT Information Services

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