The best part about plug-in cars is when the energy coming from the socket is renewable. With more solar-powered charging stations on the way, EVs look to have an even greater impact on reducing our dependance on fossil fuels. GM has recently begun installing these solar-powered charging canopies at two U.S. dealerships with 22 more on the way. The coolest part is they're free for any electric vehicle driver. We visited one of the first dealerships to get the charging canopy and spoke with Joe Serra, President at Al Serra Auto Plaza in Grand Blanc, Michigan. He said when GM reached out to him about the canopy he immediately jumped at the opportunity. City officials were also excited to hop on board. "It's not always that easy," he added.

Solar Panel in Grand Blanc

The solar canopy was built by Sunlogics, a Michigan-based startup recently funded by GM, at no cost to Al Serra. Instead the dealership has a 10-year lease on the solar canopy. Serra estimated the costs to be around $10,000 per year for the payments. He said it actually ends up being nearly free because the solar panels send excess electricity back to the grid, lowering his energy costs at the dealership.

The canopy has been seeing some traffic, too. Besides the demo Volt on the lot, others have been stopping by and charging while shopping across the street. Serra says that he uses the empty parking spaces under the canopy to give new car demos to his customers. Most are curious about the installation and often spot new Chevy Volts coming and going.

There are currently four 240V chargers and that can be doubled very easily, said Serra. If he notices a high demand he'll add more spaces. Charging time for an empty battery on the Volt runs only 3.5 hours.

Serra also owns a Nissan dealership and says that the station is non-discriminatory, even Nissan Leafs can come and get charged.



Click the image below to watch TRANSLOGIC 51: Chevy Volt Real World Test:

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