By Ben Schiller
As they try to sell more electric vehicles, carmakers are marketing more than just a new way to get from A to B. They are selling a lifestyle--cleaner, cheaper, sunnier.
Last month, Ford announced a tie-up with makers of home appliances, thermostats, and home energy management systems--a campaign called "MyEnergi Lifestyle." Customers of the program can use a Ford-developed system to get electricity when it's cheapest--say, to defrost your fridge, or heat water for laundry.
Now, Honda is offering something else: financing for solar panels. This week, it announced a partnership with Elon Musk's SolarCity. In effect, Honda is a acting like a bank, providing $65 million worth of funding, so customers don't have to pay up front (it plans to make a nominal profit).
The offer will be available in 14 states where SolarCity installs panels (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.) And in fact, not only customers can benefit: It will also be available to people who have just shown interest in an EV or hybrid by, for example, searching one of its websites.
The two companies told the New York Times that they also hope to develop "projects that integrate solar power and electric vehicle recharging for its customers." In time, it should be possible to run a car not only on electricity, but to be sure it comes from the cleanest sources.
Honda says $65 million should be enough to finance about 3,000 systems, as well as another 20 for its dealers. It might also expand the program if it's successful.
SolarCity allows customers to pay for the power they produce through a monthly lease, or by purchasing the panels outright. By going through Honda, customers will get an additional $400 sweetener, while also buying into Honda's idea of an electric lifestyle.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.