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News features: Solar-charged driving

Tesla's solar Supercharger network gets better

You gotta hand it to Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk: He knows how to make Tesla look good, and the competition look, well, just plain behind the times.

Tesla's quickly building out its network of solar-powered EV charging stations at which Tesla Model S owners can fill up on clean, green sunshine for free. In fact, soon -- no later than 2 years from now -- you'll be able to drive across pretty much all of the lower 48 in the U.S. and not pay a dime for your fuel.

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Analyst: EV and PV producers should team up

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Rudy Summers poses in front of the family's three solar-charged EVs, a Chevy Volt, a BMW ActiveE, and a Toyota RAV4 EV. You can see the solar system that powers the EVs on the garage roof. [Photo Courtesy of Colin Summers]

An interesting article surfaced this week in PV.Tech, a web site devoted to covering the solar industry. In it, PV.Tech picks up on research conducted by Pike Research last fall that illustrates what SolarChargedDriving.Com, and, yes, others, have been saying for awhile: There’s a lot of potential for synergy between electric vehicle producers and the solar industry.

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Just .02% of U.S. drivers solar-charge an EV

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Boulder, Colorado's Rich Becks is among the growing number of solar-charged drivers in the U.S. However, in terms of total drivers in the U.S., in powering his EV with solar, he's still among a tiny, tiny percentage who do so.

So, how many solar-charged drivers are there in the United States right now?

No one knows. Not even us.

That’s because no one is keeping track of this statistic, though SolarChargedDriving.Com has an ongoing, totally unscientific poll on our site (across the 2 ½ years our poll has been running, 205 people have either indicated they already are solar-charging an EV or that they plan to do so).

Putting aside the fact that no one is keeping track of how many people are solar-charging a plug-in car shows that EV + PV isn’t truly valued in American society – we survey/poll on things that matter to us on a broad social level, and we ignore those things that “we” don’t care about – we can make some reasonable speculations about how many solar-charged drivers there are in the U.S.

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It's 'Smart' to solar-charge an electric car

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Real Goods Solar is giving away an Electric Smart Car + a 1.5 kW home solar 'gas station' to one lucky contestant.

Want to win a solar-charged All-Electric Smart Car?

Then you might want to consider entering the Real Goods Solar Smart Electric Sweepstakes. Real Goods will hand over the keys to an Electric Smart Car and install a 1.5 kW solar system to fuel the car to one lucky winner of its sweepstakes.

The contest shows, once again, that solar and electric vehicles are increasingly coming together, and that more and more solar installers get it, meaning they understand that plug-in electric vehicles are a boon for solar.

The contest isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2011 we reported that a UK solar installer, Planet Solar, gave away an all-electric Nissan LEAF to Charles and Val Willett of Lancaster :-)

 

Flashing a solar-charged EV grin on Long Island

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Joe, from Long Island, with the Corvette he traded in for a Mitsubishi iMiEV. He fuels his new iMiEV with electricity generated by the 5.6 kW home solar system pictured at the top.

SolarChargedDriving.Com frequently gets e-mail, pictures, videos, etc. from people around the U.S., and around the world, who've plugged into EV + PV.

Below is a great e-mail from Joe in Long Island, New York. Joe's been flashing the solar-charged EV grin a lot lately thanks to a Mitsubishi iMiEV and a 5.6 kW home solar system.

Thank you for sharing your solar-charged driving story with us, Joe!

Here is Joe's story -->

"In 2000, we decided to install a 5.6 kW solar PV system and never regretted it. Even at that time I knew an EV would be in our future. In 2001 we purchased a “Classic Prius” one of the first in our area but no plug.

I’ve thought about converting an ICE to EV and even looked at some that were converted but just didn’t feel the technology was there. In 2005, we purchased a second generation Prius, but still no plug. I thought about upgrading it to a PHEV but I was holding out for a pure EV.

In 2012 we purchased a Mitsubishi iMiEV knowing it would be a perfect fit with our PV system and lifestyle.  The PV + EV grin is so overwhelming, I’m sure it will never end. Each time we use the iMiEV, knowing it is being fueled by the sun, it gives us an “oh so good feeling”.

Even the naysayers telling us that PV will never catch on and that the Prius was a waste of money back in 2001 are now re-thinking their past thoughts. Now here is the real clincher: We went from “Mean to Green”.  We owned a 1984 Corvette since new and put 13,000 miles on it.

And guess what? We traded it in on the iMiEV! My how people change."

--Joe, Long Island, New York

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Live in the LA area? Want to run your home -- and EV -- on sun?

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