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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
GM decided to do the Volt because of Tesla. The Volt is the most loved car in the world. GM is now planning to release the all-electric Spark and has made a major commitment to the electric future of transportation.

Now, it so happens that Tesla, a very small, fragile company is installing free fast solar charging.

So I just had to post this brilliant thought by one of our forum members here in the "suggestions for GM" category.

Now, what I think would guarantee game/set/match is if GM also came out with free, strategically placed fast charging stations at GM dealers around the U.S., or perhaps in cahoots with some other widespread chain (McD's, 7-11, Panera, etc.) That would totally one-up the Tesla supercharger plan, and reassert their green lead over Toyota. Why else have the multiple times a day fast charge capability they claim for the Spark, when the DC charging infrastructure right now is practically non-existent?
I think Volt11 is exactly right: here is a great idea for GM: project the image that you are giving back to Americans, for the future of America. Put this image in America's collective consciousness - wherever we go. At highway rest stops, malls and shopping centers, at major chains like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc. Those places have hundreds of thousands of square feet of unused roof space, just waiting for solar installation. Volt11, you are absolutely right: GM could partner with these major corporations to provide free solar charging.It really is possible. If GM were to take just $1000 from its sales of each of every 50,000 of all GM vehicles, that would be fifty million dollars each time.

For a $250,000 solar grid-tied DC fast charging single installation (about 40 kilowatts of solar panels, about 4000 square feet of roof space), GM COULD be installing two hundred new charging stations around the country, for each fifty million dollars. With annual sales of fifteen million units globally (per quick Google search), if GM ONLY committed to taking $1,000 from only ten percent of its sales, GM could install 6,000 such solar charging stations around the US in.just.one.year! That's 300 per state - without considering what matching contributions by recipient companies could accomplish, or the snowball effect as other companies followed GM's example.Now, If GM were to make a ten year commitment to giving back, by installing free solar fast charging, by contributing one grand from only ten percent of its sales, each state would now have 3,000 fast charge stations. (Or, if GM took $1,000 from fifty percent of its sales, each state would then have 30,000 free fast DC solar charging stations.)

That's with no contribution by the recipient businesses/chain involved. If each business contributed an additional solar fast charger for each one installed, there would now be 6,000 per state (at the $1000 of ten percent of GM sales rate). Of course locations with fast solar charging would need to put thirty-minute parking enforced signs up, which would allow around 8-12 perk charges daily per charger, or more.

So of course most people would still charge daily at home. But to put the 3,000 number per state into perspective, Publix, a major grocery store in FL has just over 1,000 locations - and that includes Publix locations in several other states.. Well, I have two Publix within three miles of where I live.

So three thousand free solar charging stations per state would be a huge incentive for people to buy electric... in fact I'd venture people would largely buy electric cars because of a perk like that. And the economy would thrive. And I guarantee GM would more than make back their investment. Imagine the placard at each location: "This free fast (twenty minute) solar charging station donated by GM from a portion of its sales, as part of a ten year effort to give back to America for energy independence." And probably with that scale of solar installations, GM could negotiate deep discounts, probably enough to give 30-50% more installations. GM actually could sell America all its cars -- and throw in free power for them too.
 

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You can't even use the current ones installed at the dealer like you can at Nissan so unfortunately it's unlikely to happen.... great idea though. I thought all the McD's were supposed to get chargers awhile ago? What happened?

MrEnergyCzar
 

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I like this idea, even if it is 2-3 years premature. (the Volt doesnt really require any charging infrastructure and the National rollout of the Spark EV wont be until the 2014/15 model year) But what Tesla does or has done has very little impact on the business case...
You can't even use the current ones installed at the dealer like you can at Nissan so unfortunately it's unlikely to happen.... great idea though.
Really? Did you happen to read the thread where I recounted what transpired when I took a Volt to a metro Nissan dealer for a charge?
Not only did I NOT get a charge (despite obvious EVSE availability) but what I DID get was a full-helping of attitude.
Just like @ some GM dealers, not all Nissan dealers and/or dealer employees are all "enthused" over the electrification of the automobile...
WOT
 

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Tesla's stations can only be used by Tesla's cars, giving them a competitive advantage. What competitive business advantage would GM get for providing a huge network of generic charging stations that anyone could jump on and use?
 

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Before GM gets all excited about DC charging I think they'd first want to sell a vehicle that used DC fast charging. Why would they roll out DC fast charing when no vehicle that they currently sell can use them?

As for Tesla's DC charging stations, when you look at the numbers it's fairly clear that the chances of their working out is between the proverbial slim and none. You can run the numbers yourself. The NREL solar radiation maps can be found here: http://store.sundancesolar.com/ussorama.html Assume the panels will be roughly 15% efficient. You can put your own costs for the land and be all means be optimistic and assume that batteries will be $250/kWh.
 

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Don you seem very slanted against Tesla. Why even mention the cost of batteries for the solar charging??
And the efficiency and land costs, are you serious? The panels I put on my roof 5 years ago are 19% efficient, I don't see why you would assume 15%.

And land cost is most likely zero, as they are putting the panels up on land they already own.

As for GM adding DC charging, I agree with you completely, no sense in GM adding DC chargers until such a time as they have a vehicle that can make use of it.

As for any charger, level 2 or 3, I don't see auto dealers as the best place to have them for general public use. Far better to place them at locations where people would naturally spend an amount of time to let them get a decent amount of charge. Quick chargers at restaraunts, level 2 chargers at movie theaters, hotels, shopping malls, libraries, etc.
 

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Don you seem very slanted against Tesla. Why even mention the cost of batteries for the solar charging??
And the efficiency and land costs, are you serious? The panels I put on my roof 5 years ago are 19% efficient, I don't see why you would assume 15%.

And land cost is most likely zero, as they are putting the panels up on land they already own.
On the batteries, you need batteries for the charging station. I thought that was obvious.

On panel efficiency, 15% is average. That's actually generous because you have conversion losses. (And yeah, on a really good day the solar panels on the Tesla charging station might make enough electricity to charge one car. I would think that if you had a solar system it would be immediately obvious that you're not making anything close to 60 kWh from the limited number of panels.)

You need land for solar panels. Not sure why you think you could put up panels without it.

As for Tesla, I thought the presentation of the Tesla charging stations was the lamest thing I've seen since EESTOR. As presented it simply won't work. Plus I particularly hated the battery housing -- the phallus with the Tesla logo on it. Wouldn't a simple rectangle have sufficed? Are we all supposed to act like we're 13 years old and fall on our knees in front of this symbol of virility? I literally started laughing when I saw it. Didn't you think it was beyond absurd?
 

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To answer the post title's question:
Because TESLA cant do it either. It's a publicity announcement; no matter how you look at it the solar charging part is a gimmick. And I wish them good luck in penciling out the actual cost of making this infrastructure.

The market doesn't need gimmicks, it needs realistic infrastructure and a consumer base who understands how to best utilize battery powered vehicles.
 

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On the batteries, you need batteries for the charging station. I thought that was obvious.
As I believe has been mentioned before in other threads, but it case you missed it, your assumption of the presence of batteries is incorrect (other than the batteries in he cars).
The superchargers are grid tied. Likewise, the excess solar energy produced is being fed into the grid when cars are not charging.

On panel efficiency, 15% is average. That's actually generous because you have conversion losses. (And yeah, on a really good day the solar panels on the Tesla charging station might make enough electricity to charge one car. I would think that if you had a solar system it would be immediately obvious that you're not making anything close to 60 kWh from the limited number of panels.)
My 9.6kw system produces about 10,000 kwh per year. It is an innefficient setup and located in MN where we get almost no solar production in November and December. It takes about 800 sq ft.
The pv systems for the superchargers are, from what I have read, designed to be car ports. Basically providing shade for the cars carging although I am sure they will oversize them as much as possible. Space at these are for 6 charging stations. The cars are
16'6" long and about 7' wide. 6 side by side with room for each charger gives you about a 50' wide by 20' long canopy. Placed at an angle for the sun and you have a 1100 minimum area for panels without buying any more land than is necessary for the charging stations. I am guessing adding a couple feet on each side would pretty easily give you 1400 sq ft.

If you consider their facing will be optimized for solar gain, rather than my roof, my back of napkin calculations give them about 20,000 kwh/year, probably closer to 28,000 in states like CA, although closer to 18,000 in states like MN.

Average charge is probably half a charge, there will be some higher though, so lets say 70kw/charge. That is about 285 charges a year per station. Or about one a day.

So yes, with those numbers, that seems a pretty small number. However, I have also tried my best to be overly conservative with the numbers. So perhaps my numbers are wrong. I also completely ignored the newer panels. My solar panels are 200watt panels. Newer panels at the same size are 220 or even 240.

You need land for solar panels. Not sure why you think you could put up panels without it.
I use my roof, as Tesla appears to be doing.

As for Tesla, I thought the presentation of the Tesla charging stations was the lamest thing I've seen since EESTOR. As presented it simply won't work. Plus I particularly hated the battery housing -- the phallus with the Tesla logo on it. Wouldn't a simple rectangle have sufficed? Are we all supposed to act like we're 13 years old and fall on our knees in front of this symbol of virility? I literally started laughing when I saw it. Didn't you think it was beyond absurd?
Completely agree that it is way over the top. Musk is a showman. It was the silliest thing I saw since Lutz came out and made a big show of 243mpg:) And there is that mention of the battery housing again, where did you get that there are batteries??
Don, you seem to spit venom at anything that has to do with Musk and you let that color your assumptions about the technical aspects of the Model S and now the supercharger system. I am really sorry for what ever it is Mr. Musk did to you to cause such hatred. Try to ignore the marketing and personality and focus on the technology.

So, I suspect my calculations are off and the solar can provide at least 3 charges per day per station at a net draw of zero from the grid. I gather you feel that many more than 3 charges (70kw each) will be made?
 

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Supercharging is a wonderful cross-over term that connects a cool gas-related term (turbo) with new electric technology where it actually makes technical sense. Its not a suitable concept for the Volt.

Supercharging is an attempt to overcome range anxiety and cross-country range in all-electric vehicles. The whole point of the Volt is that this is a non-issue thanks to the ICE. Volt owners charge leisurely at home, during the night, and don't lose sleep about getting stranded.

To make the 'electric gas station' concept viable the Volt's charge speed must be at least 10x better than it is now. Our Volts currently charge at only 10/miles per hour tops. So the 30 minutes McDonalds pit stop gets you just 5 miles, not 150 miles as Tesla claims. Any nobody want to hang out more than 30 minutes at McDonalds, and even less on a Chevy dealer's lot... Even if the Volt was upgraded to supercharging there are some technical issues: I suspect that with current battery technology, frequent speed charging will reduce battery lifespan.

The ChargePoint or Blink stations are poor value propositions for non-supercharged cars, simply because it charges too little during the average shopping errant or lunch stop. As Volt owners (or as Karma owners), we can happily ignore those and stick with the low-hassle charge at home or at work. For me, that works out to a great 94% electric operation. Even at lower EV percentages that is a very sane technical sweet spot between battery size, cost, practicality and easy-of-use.

I don't get the 'solar' part of charging, apart as a marketing/feelgood gimmick. Energy generation and distribution are very different problems that technically make no sense combining. Since GM has not been in the oil business in the last 100 years, they should not be in the electric generation business either in the coming 100 years.
 

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To answer the post title's question:
Because TESLA cant do it either. It's a publicity announcement; no matter how you look at it the solar charging part is a gimmick. And I wish them good luck in penciling out the actual cost of making this infrastructure.

The market doesn't need gimmicks, it needs realistic infrastructure and a consumer base who understands how to best utilize battery powered vehicles.
Could be, the numbers do seem to be a stretch. However, 6 stations are already up, and the next one/set on the east coast is set to go up in the next few weeks.
I do look forward to the next quarterly stock holders meeting where we may see some more details about how the original set in CA is doing.
 

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Tesla Superchargers are tied to the grid and operate 24/7, no solar needed.

When the sun does shine, the Supercharger stations with solar panels will generate power that does flow back to the grid.

A Tesla Model S driver accidentally driving past a Supercharger station will be less likely with the attention getting signage that Tesla Motors has designed. If they engineered a giant Tesla Coil as the symbol, environmentalists would be upset with the extra energy use. Companies can't please everyone, so they might as well please the majority with quality, creativity, innovation, style, functionality, and breathtaking speed. Apple has done it for years and it is a pleasure to experience the same with one of Tesla Motors first production electric vehicles from the Fremont, California factory located right here in the land of the free, the United States of America!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Tesla Superchargers are tied to the grid and operate 24/7, no solar needed.

When the sun does shine, the Supercharger stations with solar panels will generate power that does flow back to the grid.

A Tesla Model S driver accidentally driving past a Supercharger station will be less likely with the attention getting signage that Tesla Motors has designed. If they engineered a giant Tesla Coil as the symbol, environmentalists would be upset with the extra energy use. Companies can't please everyone, so they might as well please the majority with quality, creativity, innovation, style, functionality, and breathtaking speed. Apple has done it for years and it is a pleasure to experience the same with one of Tesla Motors first production electric vehicles from the Fremont, California factory located right here in the land of the free, the United States of America!
+1 that. And not everybody thought it was a phallic symbol. I laughed not when I saw it (looks great IMHO) but when I read a news article making that connection. Ok so every tower or vertically oriented item that is longer than it is wide is phallic? To those who call Tesla's symbol phallic, what other websites do you spend all your time on......

But besides, sure, let's say it's phallic. So, give the middle finger to Big Oil. Shouldn't really bother us.
 
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