Chevrolet harnesses sun to power volts, dealerships

July 29, 2011
Chevrolet is harnessing the power of the sun with the installation of solar-powered electric charging stations for its Volts at dealerships in North America, like this one at Al Serra Auto Plaza on Wednesday, July 6, 2011 in Grand Blanc, Michigan. This Chevy Green Zone initiative will generate electricity equivalent to 12 full vehicle charges per day and excess electricity created will help supplement the dealership’s power needs. Credit: Steve Fecht for Chevrolet

Chevrolet is harnessing the power of the sun to install solar-powered electric charging stations for its Volts at dealerships in North America. The Green Zone initiative will generate electricity equivalent to 12 full vehicle charges per day and excess electricity created will help supplement the dealership’s power needs.

“The Chevrolet Green Zone will provide our U.S. dealers with added flexibility when it comes to charging their vehicles, while also reinforcing GM’s commitment to renewable energy projects,” said Chris Perry, vice president, Global Chevrolet Marketing and Strategy.

American Chevrolet in Modesto, Calif., and Al Serra Auto Plaza in Grand Blanc, Mich., are the first U.S. dealerships to complete their charging capability by installing Green Zones on their property.

“The question isn’t whether to install a solar canopy, it’s where and how many,” said Joe Serra, president of Serra Automotive. “It’s a win for us because the electricity generated will help reduce operating costs, and it’s a win for the environment since solar power helps reduce our carbon footprint.”

Each canopy generates enough electricity for up to 4,500 charges per vehicle annually. The proof of concept for the Green Zone project is housed at the Detroit Hamtramck assembly plant, manufacturing home of the Volt.

“The beauty of this program is that there is no capital cost required from the dealership,” said Dave Halvorson, president of American Chevrolet in Modesto. “Not only do we generate the solar energy to increase our reliance on renewable electricity, but the Green Zone is a billboard of our commitment to the environment.”

The Chevy Green Zone Initiative is part of GM Ventures’ recent announcement to invest $7.5 million in Sunlogics, a solar panel manufacturing and development company that will supply the panels and install the dealer charging stations. Both American Chevrolet and Al Serra partnered with Sunlogics for installation of their Green Zones.

“Just one of these canopies provides enough renewable energy to power two to three homes per year, or more than 25 percent of a dealership’s energy consumption,” said Perry. “Collectively, that will be a lot of power we are putting back into the grid.”

As part of the GM Ventures investment announcement in Sunlogics, General Motors committed to double its solar output globally – from 30 megawatts to 60 megawatts by 2015. The company derives 1.4 percent of its U.S. energy consumption from renewable resources.

GM is the leading user of in automotive manufacturing. It has three of the largest automotive rooftop solar installations in the United States, and the world’s largest rooftop solar installation at its car assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain. Additionally, GM has started construction on a new solar field at its Detroit-Hamtramck facility and completed construction on a solar array on top of its Baltimore Operations facility.

Explore further: Chicago Installs Solar Powered Charging Station for Electric Vehicles

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not rated yet Jul 29, 2011
I liked the Volt when it came out in 2007 at the car shows. It looked nice then, but not now. Now it looks drab; like a Moskvitch.
I like the engineering concept. Why not do what Toyota has done and install solar pannels on the roof to augment the battery drain. It could power a fan or AC in the South. Stuck between Missoula and Billings, such a roof solar collecter could repower the car.
not rated yet Jul 29, 2011
All cars should have something like that. It would of course be one of the luxury options as it would add to the expense.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2011
Unless you are operating the car on Venus, there is not enough area under collection on an average small car roof to do much as far as daily commuting in, say, Los Angeles. However if you are an 'oldt ladie' who lives next to a church and a supermarket, and only operate the car on sundays to go a hundred feet to the church, and then 200 feet to the market....and another 200 feet back home....then you're fine!
not rated yet Aug 14, 2011
I submitted this very idea and the OnStar app to OnStar GM senior management over 3 years ago. They took the ideas, gave me zero credit and fired me. The truth of the matter is the Volt is an economy car that cost more than the base Cadillac CTS whose sole purpose is to give GM a halo effect. It would take a decade or more to make up the savings in gas vs buying a Ford Focus. The Prius is a much better choice.

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