2011 Chevrolet Volt plugs in at the RenCen – Click above for high-res image gallery
To kick off the 2010 Business of Plugging In expo in style, General Motors announced a big push for electric vehicle chargers that will help give the 2011 Chevrolet Volt models plenty of electric juice as they sit in parking spots around Michigan, including right in front of GM's world headquarters in downtown Detroit.
GM vice chairman Tom Stephens was on hand to plug in a white Volt on a crisp and sunny afternoon as part of the announcement that more than 5,300 home and workplace charging stations will be installed in Michigan in the coming years. The numbers break down with 2,500 installed by both DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, with GM installing around 350 more on various properties it owns around the state. Two stations are already operable in front of the Renaissance Center, and there are over 100 more already installed. By the end of next week, the RenCen will sport 18 stations. Even with all of these public chargers dotting the landscape, Stephens said that, "We feel that the home charging station is the most important, the second most important would be able to charge at work."
Stephens would not say exactly when the first customer will take delivery of the first Volt, except that it will happen when the vehicle passes all of GM's quality production standards. Most likely, this will happen next month or possibly December. "It's whenever we complete that process," he said. "I would hope it would not take into January," he said in response to a reporter's question about the timeline.
The RenCen charging station, from ChargePoint, will be able to handle any modern electric vehicle, so we're starting our stopwatches now to see how long it takes someone to snap a photo of a Nissan Leaf or Tesla Roadster charging in front of GM's iconic HQ.
Michigan Readies as the U.S. Prepares for Electric Vehicles
More than 5,300 home and workplace charging stations to be installed in Michigan
DETROIT – More than 5,300 home and workplace charging stations are planned to be installed in Michigan as the state prepares for the introduction of new electric vehicle technology. General Motors and its partners are teaming up to help give Chevrolet Volt buyers more options for charging their vehicles.
DTE Energy pledges to install 2,500 240V home charging stations for plug-in vehicles, and Consumers Energy is matching that pledge. The utilities will cover up to $2,500 of the cost of the charging station and installation. GM's Voltec 240 V home charging station is priced at just $490 plus an estimated $1,475 for installation. The city of Lansing Board of Water and Light will provide an additional 25 charging stations to its customers and by the end of 2011, General Motors plans to have almost 350 charging stations in place for employees at its facilities in Michigan, with more than 100 already installed.
In addition, more than 1,500 Chevrolet dealers across the U.S. plan to install charging stations for use by customers. This number includes nearly 650 dealers that will soon begin selling the Volt in retail launch markets and approximately 900 others across the country that are authorized to provide service.
More important than the total volume of charging stations is where they will be located, according to Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman, Global Product Operations. "Since our homes may soon be our fueling stations of the future we believe the most important way to make communities 'plug-in ready' is by enabling residential charging."
Most of these stations will be placed in consumers' garages, carports and driveways. A few will be strategically located, such as the two GM placed in front of its headquarters at the Renaissance Center at the building's entrance off of Jefferson Ave in Detroit. A total of 18 charging stations will be operational in and around the Renaissance Center within the next week.
"We think this opens up doors for those Volt owners who want to charge at work or who don't have a place at home to charge the car overnight. They'll be able to drive electrically when they can, and they can drive on gasoline when they need to," Stephens said in remarks at the Business of Plugging In Conference in Detroit on Tuesday. "We see these stations as an incentive to our employees to join the Electric Vehicle movement ... and as a demonstration to other businesses to encourage their own employees to drive greener."
GM-installed charging stations for use by its employees in Michigan will include 34 at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly center where the Volt is built and 140 in the homes of employees driving early-build models for quality evaluation.
Many of the stations at GM facilities will be powered by renewable solar energy. The Detroit-Hamtramck assembly center already has 10 stations in place powered by photovoltaic systems from SunLogics Inc. Envision Solar International will provide its innovative Solar Tree® with EnvisionTrak™ system for use at the Warren Technical Center and Milford Proving Ground.
GM envisioned the need for public and workplace charging stations in 2007 when it formed a collaboration with DTE, Consumers Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute and more than 50 other utilities. Many of those utilities are or will be launching similar programs to help customers prepare for electrification.
Michigan is one of nine regions in the United States identified by the U.S. Department of Energy to lead the electrification movement. Free home charging stations provided by ECOtality and Coulomb Technologies will be available to 4,400 eligible Volt owners through a program funded by the DOE.
"We've put a lot of thought into the best way to enhance the electric vehicle experience," Stephens said. "We've focused on everything from vehicle-to-grid technical interfaces, codes and standards to leading consumer education and outreach."
In fact, the Society of Engineers-approved industry standard for charging equipment was led by a GM engineer. And GM's Opel subsidiary recently announced a vehicle-to-grid experiment in Germany involving a battery electric version of the Opel Meriva.
About General Motors – General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 208,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, FAW, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.