VW to Offer EV Buyers Solar-Panel Option to Cut Charging Costs

Volkswagen has revealed that it is looking to cut electric-vehicle charging costs by offering solar photovoltaic panels to its customers. The German automaker says drivers who take the solar-panel deal will be able to lower their charging costs by up to 40% by using solar energy to supplement their regular charging.

Although charging an electric car typically costs less than fueling an internal combustion engine (ICE) over the long-term, installing a home charger can be quite costly and requires dedicated space that a significant portion of drivers don’t have. Furthermore, public EV-charging infrastructure is still too insufficient to support mass electric-vehicle adoption, making it significantly less popular as a means of EV charging compared to home charging.

These two issues have contributed to range anxiety, one of the greatest barriers to EV adoption, and kept many potential EV owners from making the switch to zero-emission electric cars. Volkswagen hopes to entice customers by offering solar panels alongside their EV purchase, providing a supplemental means of charging and cutting down charging costs by nearly half. The carmaker has collaborated with Otovo, a solar-panel installation company based in Norway that was launched in 2016, to facilitate the solar-panel project. Otovo has more than 20,000 solar-panel installations across 13 countries in Europe.

According to Volkswagen, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is only as green as the electricity that powers it. Solar energy currently represents an incredibly cost-effective energy source that homeowners can use to reduce their home emissions and power their electric cars. Drivers who cover relatively small distances during their daily commutes may be able to cover a substantial portion of their charging needs with solar.

Volkswagen’s Elli brand already sells EV chargers, and the recently debuted Elli 2 charger features software that can lower charging costs by recharging when electricity costs have dropped or with excess solar energy. Elli CEO Giovanni Palazzo says the tie-up aims to make electric vehicle charging more cost effective and accessible to customers.

Palazzo added that Volkswagen teaming up with Otovo is a critical signal for Germany’s and Europe’s energy and charging segments, especially because it concerns the integrating mobility and the clean-energy transition with households. Otovo CEO Andreas Thorsheim also noted that the Norwegian company was pleased to partner with Volkswagen and said the collaboration would give Otovo a chance to show the merits of its photovoltaic systems and increase its market potential.

Many more EV companies, such as Vinfast Auto Ltd. (NASDAQ: VFS), are likely to come up with their own innovative offers as the competition within the electric-vehicle industry heats up even more.

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