GIVEN THE WEATHER in the United Kingdom—that cloudy, foggy, drizzly country—it doesn’t seem like the best place to launch a business that revolves around solar power. But this is where the builder of the world’s best-selling electric car just started selling Nissan Energy Solar, a generation-to-acceleration scheme that equips customers with roof-mounted panels and a battery to store some of the electricity they generate. If they drive a Leaf, or Nissan’s e-NV200 electric van, they can combine the whole process and drive from Scotland to Wales to wherever, guilt-free, fog lights on, windshield wipers whisking away.
Despite the weather, solar works well in the UK. Panels can do their thing even with indirect sunlight, and the country’s northerly position makes for 16 hours of daytime during the summer. Nearly a million people there already use solar panels, according to Nissan. Adding batteries to the mix will help them stay powered up even when the weather turns, well, normal. “It enables UK homeowners to make significant savings on their household electricity bills, and become champions of sustainability and green technology,” says Gareth Dunsmore, electric vehicle director for Nissan Europe.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Nissan is biting at Tesla’sheels. A decade after CEO Elon Musk said he wanted to offer zero emission power generation options, Tesla acquired Solar City. Now, its customers can buy an entire clean energy stack: roof panels, a Powerwall home battery, and of course, a car. (Tesla also created a sleek design for solar panels that look like a normal roof, and that does away with that ugly flat black glass look.)
Nissan says its all-in-one system will start at $5,200 for six solar panels, or $10,300 for panels and a 4-kWh battery, including installation. Customers can choose between a brand new battery, or a “second-life” pack made from cells that have been retired from electric vehicles but remain good enough for the more gentle demands of daily storage. Tesla’s powerwall, which can store 13.5 kWh, costs $5,900, but installation is extra.
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