DETROIT - Mark Hildebrandt owns Sunventrix, a company that installs solar panels €" so it's only natural that he counts on the sun to create the electricity to charge his Chevrolet Volt.
"I made the switch to renewable energy a while ago, and thus with solar energy, I can power my house, charge my Volt and pump energy back into the grid, which I get credit for," said Hildebrandt in a press release, one of the first Volt purchasers in the state.
"As more Volts are sold, I believe the demand for solar charging stations will increase," he said. "I have spoken to a handful of Volt owners in Michigan that are really interested in charging their Volts from solar energy."
Hildebrandt isn't alone in harnessing the sun for battery power. ZD Wines€™ winemaster and CEO, Robert deLeuze, has run his Napa, Calif.-based winery exclusively on solar power since 2007, and today you can often find deLeuze€™s Volt among the grape vines charging from the winery's photovoltaic system.
"Solar power generation makes sense, and I think the Volt will help generate more interest in home installations," said deLeuze. "ZD Wines has had a solar power station for the past three years and purchasing my Volt was a driving factor in installing a solar photovoltaic system at my house."
According to OnStar data, many Volts are going up to 1,000 miles between gasoline fill-ups.
"The majority of miles driven by Volt customers are powered electrically by the Volt's battery," said Cristi Landy, Volt marketing director.
The Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, home of the Volt, is already using sunlight to charge Volts before they are loaded for transport to dealerships. The plant has a 20kW Solar Carport that houses 10 Volt charging stations. Additional charging stations are planned for other locations around the plant.
The Volt offers a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas and tailpipe emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt's battery runs low, a gas-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank.