2011 Chevrolet Volt 240V charging stationEnlarge Photo
We've discussed before the issue of how clean electric cars really are when you take into consideration the source of the electricity you use to charge them - they're only as clean as the grid powering them.
It's usually one of the first things EV dissenters bring up... "Yeah, but where does the electricity come from, hmm? Coal power?" at which point many of us are ready to hit them back with "Yeah, but where does the gasoline come from, hmm?" before explaining the massive chain of production for fossil fuels. POW! One-nil to the electric car.
Chevrolet can bypass that conversation altogether though with their new solar-powered recharging station at the Detroit-Hamtramck Volt assembly plant.
Twelve charging points are situated under an 18.2 kW solar array from which the stations draw their power. Dave Schuster, manufacturing and engineering manager at Detroit-Hamtramck, says that up to 10 Volts can be charged at once. Even on the cloudy day featured in the video, the station managed to capture 3 kWh of electricity, and on a sunny day Schuster claims they can charge six Volts all at once from the power generated.
The charging stations themselves are 240-volt devices (or a 'level 2' charger) which should allow a full charge in 3 to 4 hours, compared to the 8-10 hours a regular 120V socket would allow for.
The more exciting news is the 7-acre array that Chevrolet have planned which will help power the plant itself, meaning even Volt production will be greener. Check out Chevrolet's video below for the full story:
The solar-powered charging will no doubt leave a good impression on visitors to the factory and Volt customers, who can drive up and leave their Volt to charge while they go about their affairs. For some, it might even be the inspiration they need to buy solar panels for their own home. Chevrolet's message is clear: They're producting a green product, and effort must be made at all levels to ensure the car's propulsion isn't the only environmentally friendly aspect.