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Feb 19 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co's U.S. division is partnering with solar power company SolarCity Corp on a $65 million fund to help its customers and dealerships finance solar projects.
The companies did not say how much money they each contributed to the fund, which is expected to finance systems for between 2,500 and 3,000 residential homes, as well as 10 to 20 dealerships.
SolarCity, which installs and maintains the panels, has raised similar funds from banks such as U.S. Bancorp and from Google Inc, but this is the first such deal with an automaker.
"This is really the first initiative like this," said Steve Center, vice president of the environmental business development office for American Honda Motor Co. "We've got some of the most sought after customers in the marketplace."
The funds allow homeowners to pay a monthly fee for their solar panels rather than pay for them all at once. The growth of such financing in the solar industry has made going solar an option for households that otherwise could not afford it.
The move is part of Honda's goal to reduce is greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050, executives said on Monday. As the owners of the panel systems, Honda and SolarCity will also be able to claim a federal tax credit worth 30 percent of the value of the system.
"My hope is that this sends a message to other corporations to follow," SolarCity Chief Executive Lyndon Rive said in an interview.
Honda customers will be able to claim an additional $400 discount beyond what they would receive from SolarCity directly.