TECH: Will Solar City Switch To EVs When Acquisition By Tesla Motors Is Completed?

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Residential solar power and electric vehicles go hand in hand. So why does Elon Musk’s Solar City use gasoline powered cars?

solar City winter 2015

It would seem illogical that a clean energy company involving Elon Musk would have a fleet of gasoline-powered cars, but that is the case. Solar City uses the compact cars to make residential sales and service calls and to conduct other business.

Musk and his two cousins are the top three executives at Solar City, making it a sort of family business. The vehicles in use include Chevy and Ford models. They are not hybrids like the Prius, or plug-in hybrids, like the Ford Fusion Energi.  Rather, these are mainstream gasoline-only cars.

solarcity garage honda fit ev

In its advertisement videos, Solar City uses images and scenes like the one above showing battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), in this case, a Honda Fit EV. However, rather than choose to use vehicles with zero local emissions that run on electric power, the company has opted to instead use fossil-fuel-burning vehicles.

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This may change soon. Solar City is being bought by another company led by Elon Musk, Tesla Motors.

Tesla lobbies legislatures to encourage lawmakers to bend the rules for EVs and to encourage incentives for electric vehicle use. To say the company is an advocate for EVs would be an understatement. However, when the acquisition is complete, Tesla Motors will inherit a huge fleet of gasoline-powered cars.

solar city car on rt 128 goreham image

Take note that we are not including the many vans and other installation vehicles in our discussion.  Although Ford does now have a work van powered by electricity, Tesla and Solar City can no doubt make a fair argument that the heavy vehicles it needs to bring and service huge, heavy solar panels for rooftop installation require the company to use the most practical vehicles it can find.

Tesla Motors’ buyout of Solar City has been approved by government regulators who say it is not an anti-trust-related acquisition. A report by NPR casts the acquisition of Solar City as a lifeline to a company that has seen better days.

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Note:  BestRide reached out to Solar City for input on this story, but our calls and e-mail were not returned.