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An electric car – with a side of solar panels

Marrying electric cars with solar panels is a good way of enticing people into buying electric cars, new research shows. Joint efforts from automakers and green energy providers could expand interest in electric cars, Ingram writes.

By Antony IngramGuest blogger / April 2, 2013

Solar panels are shown in a photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M. New research suggests that interest in full electric vehicles grows when paired with a green electricity program.

Susan Montoya Bryan/AP/File


In our experience, owners of electric vehicles are also rather keen on green energy. Where appropriate, many fit solar panels to supply some of their energy needs, and others use green energy tariffs and similar.

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As it turns out, marrying the two is a good way of enticing people into electric cars--buying cars in the knowledge they're impacting the environment as little as possible.

A researcher at Simon Fraser University in Canada surveyed 1,500 American auto consumers to discover their thoughts on electric vehicles.

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Regardless of the type of vehicle a respondent had recently bought--be it pure electric, hybrid, or a conventional car--interest in full electric vehicles grew when paired with a green electricity program. 

“For the conventional car buyers," says researcher Jonn Axsen, "once we offered green electricity with plug-in vehicles it increased their interest by 23 per cent, which is significant.” For hybrid and full electric car buyers, interest was even higher.

Conveniently, a report by Navigant Research confirms it--stating that electric vehicle owners and buyers pay much more attention to the energy powering their vehicles, preferring clean power such as solar.

The report, aimed at solar companies, details how the solar industry can benefit from teaming up with automobile companys--with their greater advertising budgets--to aim green energy at customers to go with their electric vehicles. Naturally, the benefit is also there for the automakers themselves, whose electric cars are an easier sell with some green energy to power them.

"Together," says the report's abstract, "these two industries can provide a complete solution that enables emissions-free driving as well as clean, low-cost electricity."

Axsen agrees in his own report, saying "There are many things that have to be done to nurture widespread interest in PEVs. This survey gives some stimulus to automakers and utilities to think about synergies in terms of sales. Currently, they’re working separately."

If you have $1,500 handy you can read the full Navigant Research report here. You can also read Jonn Axsen's full report (in PDF format) and view a video abstract here.

The latter in particular is very interesting, as much for its details on the demographics of electric car owners--albeit demographics that might have shifted significantly in the year or so since the data was collected.

In summary thought, it needs joint efforts from automakers and green energy providers to expand interest in electric vehicles--in addition to the dozens of other factors that attract certain customers to electric ownership.

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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