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With solar canopies, Chevrolet dealers charge Volts

Posting in Energy

General Motors dealers in North America will soon install solar-powered electric charging stations for Volt electric vehicles on the lot.

General Motors on Friday announced that Chevrolet dealers in North America will soon install solar-powered electric charging stations -- canopies, really -- for Volt electric vehicles on the lot.

Called "The Green Zone," the charging infrastructure will generate enough electricity to fully charge EVs like the Volt 12 times per day. (Each canopy is rated for 4,500 charges per vehicle per year.) Any surplus electricity will simply be used to keep the dealership's lights on.

The first U.S. dealerships to see the canopies will be in Modesto, Calif., and Grand Blanc, Mich.

The canopies will be powered by solar panels made by Rochester Hills, Mich.-based Sunlogics, which yesterday received a $7.5 million investment from GM Ventures. The business model is structured to prevent any upfront capital cost from the dealership.

Fittingly, GM also announced that it would double its global solar energy output, from 30 megawatts today to 60 megawatts by 2015. (GM receives just 1.4 percent of its energy from renewable sources.) The success of reaching that goal obviously hinges on how quickly the automaker can roll out its new canopies.

It's not a bad way to use the open (often sunny) expanse of an auto dealer's parking lot. Putting the asphalt to work, so to speak.

Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure