The Solar Tree: The Next Step for Electric Vehicles

The Solar Tree: The Next Step for Electric Vehicles

Haley Fox, Staff Reporter

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Chevrolet Volt’s release to markets across the U.S. Though only about 6,000 units have been sold nationally, no other car has had such an impact on modern auto history.

In celebration, General Motors has erected a contraption called the Solar Tree at GM’s Company Vehicle Operations in Warren, Michigan. Officially called the Tracking Solar Tree, this enormous solar energy collector is able to recharge up to six plug-in vehicles at a time. Better yet, the tree was designed, engineered and built right here in the U.S.

This tree ‘planted’ in Warren offers new unique energy technology. Not only is it charging six vehicles at a time, but it’s using pure solar energy to do so. The entire tree functions similarly to a sunflower, pivoting with the sun to ensure the optimal capture of solar rays at any time of the day. The solar tree actually fulfils another criterion; protecting the charging cars from the elements.

These solar trees are the next stage of green charging for Chevrolet and GM, who now has more than 500 charging stations across its workplaces alone to recharge plug-in cars like the Volt. They are also expecting to have about 200 “Green Zones” – Chevy dealerships or separate stations equipped with charging canopies – by early next year.

The next similar Solar Tree will be installed soon at the GM Proving Ground in Milford.

This quick, clean conversion of solar energy for use in plug-in vehicles is a substantial step forward in expanding the green-energy market. GM hopes that with the creation of these trees, technology will be able to move towards a market with a firmer base in renewable energy.