Michigan Readies as the U.S. Prepares for Electric Vehicles
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 2,500 240-volt 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-volt 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.