Electric vehicles

Why Hyundai—and other automakers—want to sell you solar panels

At-home solar and battery storage can increase the benefits of EV ownership.
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Hyundai

· 4 min read

Automakers are no longer content with just your driveway or your garage—some want the whole house.

Hyundai is the latest OEM to offer EV owners an entire home energy system, complete with solar panels and battery storage, following companies like Tesla and GM. The company rolled out Hyundai Home at the LA Auto Show last month, a platform that aims to make residential solar more accessible.

Global EV sales are set to more than triple between 2021 and 2025, but the emissions footprint of an EV is highly dependent on the carbon intensity of the electricity used to charge it. Renewable energy production reached a record high in the US last year, largely due to growth in wind and solar, but fossil fuels remain the largest source of electricity generation.

As the utility-scale generation of electricity continues to transform, outfitting EV owners with at-home solar and battery storage can immediately increase both the financial and environmental benefits of switching to electric.

The problem is that choosing among solar and battery storage options can be complicated, and the cost remains a barrier to entry for many people. Automakers are hoping that their existing customer relationships and dealer networks can at least help them solve the issue of choosing a provider.

“We want to make it easy for customers to go solar to get energy storage and to eventually use all those systems together to reduce their energy bill,” Ian Tupper, the senior group manager of strategic environmental partnerships at Hyundai, told TechCrunch.

Solar services

Hyundai dealers have been fielding calls from customers looking to set up solar along with at-home charging for EVs like the Ioniq 5, Tupper told TechCrunch. Now, Hyundai EV owners can be matched with advisors from Electrum, a company that helps homeowners navigate the oftentimes complex process of setting up residential solar by assisting them with the decision-making process and providing support before and after installation.

The company built its marketplace, which is currently available to Hyundai customers in 16 states, with established solar, battery, and EV-charging providers, including ChargePoint.

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Putting solar panels on the roof of a home is considerably more expensive than just installing charging equipment for an EV, on average adding up to anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, according to estimates from the Center for Sustainable Energy.

But that investment can pay off over time. Households equipped with solar power, EVs, and battery storage systems could reduce their annual energy costs by as much as ~40% compared with typical homes, according to a recent study. And for those looking to minimize their personal carbon footprints, charging EVs via rooftop solar drastically reduces vehicle emissions compared with using electricity from the power grid, which is still powered by ~60% fossil-fuel sources in the US.

The Inflation Reduction Act passed earlier this year increased the federal support for renewable energy projects and extended the 30% investment tax credit for solar installations, including at-home setups.

The automaker’s partnership with Electrum provides access to experts who can answer questions about energy usage and costs as well as ensure customers are taking advantage of all federal, state, and local incentives for solar projects.

Other automakers are also thinking bigger than just the car or the charger.

Ford has been working with Sunrun to provide at-home solar paired with EV charging for its F-150 Lightning since the vehicle rolled out earlier this year. And Tesla has its Powerwall battery system and rooftop solar tech, though the company has canceled many solar projects in recent weeks as it scales back its solar business. In October, GM created a new division called GM Energy to sell charging equipment, solar panels, and batteries, along with related software.

The speed at which homes can be outfitted with entire ecosystems of solar energy, battery storage, and EV charging depends on more than just connecting customers to installers, though: It depends on the challenging feat of scaling battery production, too.

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