Honda Teams Up with SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY)

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted February 27, 2013

Honda Motor Co. Ltd (NYSE: HMC), like other auto manufacturers, has used countless promotional and marketing strategies to lure customers into buying its vehicles – no payments for 6 months, zero-down financing, rebates, and on, and on, and on.

But a recent partnership with SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) will market to customers in a fresh and interesting way.

If you are a Honda or Acura (Honda’s luxury division) customer in the United States, SolarCity will install solar power for your home; not your vehicle, but for your home.

A $65 million investment has been made to support the project in an effort to provide solar energy that is less expensive than a customer’s current utility bill. On top of that, the customer would receive insurance, repairs, and a monitoring service.

From NBC News:

“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,” said Steven Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

SolarCity is a clean technology company and one of the few that found success when it offered public stock last year.

It was founded by two brothers, Lyndon and Peter Rive, in 2006, and it is headquartered in San Mateo, California. The company offers sun-powered technologies: commercial and residential arrays and solar charging stations for electronic vehicles (EVs); Honda may use the latter for future endeavors, reported NBC News.

The initial start to the program will be in the 14 states where SolarCity currently operates: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, and also in Washington, D.C.

Honda owners would also receive other benefits, including a $400 discount on top of SolarCity’s regular promotions—an extra incentive to the customer, the New York Times reported—and the opportunity to make energy efficient upgrades for vehicles like weatherization and improved heating & cooling systems.

SolarCity’s CEO Lyndon Rive told Bloomberg that the partnership with Honda allows the company to give discounts to customers. “We can be a lot more aggressive with the price,” Rive said.

Honda dealers will also benefit with offers of advantageous terms to either lease or buy systems from SolarCity.

The dynamic between Honda and SolarCity could prove harmonious. After all, it was Honda who first introduced a hybrid electric vehicle to the U.S. market.

TriplePundit reported that Honda has also ranked at the top of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ list of overall vehicle environmental performance since 2000, and in 11 of the past 12 years has stood atop the list of the greenest vehicles in the U.S. from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

To accompany Honda’s reputation and a desire to produce a clean running automobile, SolarCity represents a similar vision and also has proven itself as an industry leader in solar energy.

Many Honda owners are accustomed to convenience, and SolarCity provides the convenience and customer service they expect. TriplePundit reported that a customer can request a consultation, either by phone or Internet, and SolarCity will determine if that customer is a good fit for an installation. If they are, a custom made solar unit is designed and fitted for the customer.

It is no doubt a symbiotic relationship for both companies. And if the venture proves successful, SolarCity could easily have millions more customers and be operating in every state.

Corporate investors will also take a more vested interest. Currently, capital is mostly provided by banks that are more limited and only interested in the bottom dollar.

And Honda will continue to build its reputation, not only as a solid and dependable automobile manufacturer but also as an environmentally friendly industry leader.

If this partnership seems unique, it is, but it’s also not the first time a solar company has teamed up with an automaker. Ford (NYSE: F) and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) provided customers a chance for a rooftop solar installation with the purchase of an all-electric Focus or the C-Max Energy plug-in hybrid, reported TriplePundit.

And others are automakers are starting to use solar: General Motors (NYSE: GM), Audi, and Volkswagen have all added solar arrays, NBC News reports.

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