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The 2012 Chevrolet Volt with a Low Emissions Package will be eligible to drive in the HOV lane  (Source: inhabitat.com)

GM's Tracking Solar Tree in Warren, Michigan  (Source: media.gm.com)
California 2012 Volt drivers with the Low Emissions Package can receive the rebate and HOV access in early 2012

General Motors Co. is making renewable energy a top priority with new ventures that include a Low Emissions Package for Chevrolet Volt drivers in California and a Tracking Solar Tree for EV charging in Michigan.

Californians who have purchased a 2012 Volt will be eligible for a Low Emissions Package starting early 2012. One perk associated with the package is access to California's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) traffic lane, which allows drivers to bypass congested traffic by using this lane.

Originally, the HOV lane was only for vehicles with two or more people onboard. This was later changed to allow single occupancy use for those with a low-emissions vehicle. There are currently over 1,400 miles of HOV lanes in California.

"HOV lane access is a coveted perk in California," said Chris Perry, vice president of Global Chevrolet Marketing. "The low-emissions Volt will be a strong draw for drivers who commute daily in the most congested driving environments in the United States."

2012 Volt drivers with the Low Emissions Package can apply for one of the 40,000 available HOV lane stickers.

In addition to HOV lane stickers, California Volt drivers with the Low Emissions Package are eligible to receive $1,500 in state rebates via the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Volt drivers will also receive the $7,500 tax credit from the federal government.

But California isn't the only state receiving some clean perks. Michigan has a solar charging canopy called the Tracking Solar Tree, which moves with the sun and helps to charge GM's EVs.

The Tracking Solar Tree was built by Envision Solar in America, and consists of a hybrid multi-axis tracking design. This particular design allows the canopy to move with the sun, collecting more energy from sunlight throughout the day.

"We are constantly looking for places where we can add a renewable focus," said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy. "This solar tree is an ideal addition because not only does it provide a space to charge our electric vehicles, but it's another step in our journey toward cleaner energy use."

According to GM, the Tracking Solar Tree is able to increase renewable energy production by about 25 percent due to its movable parts. In addition, the tree will produce up to 30,000-kilowatt hours per year and generate enough solar energy to charge six EVs daily.

The Tracking Solar Tree is currently located at the GM Company Vehicle Operations in Warren, Michigan.

Sources: GM, GM



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HOV thoughts
By Dorkyman on 11/17/2011 11:56:47 AM , Rating: 2
I was able to escape from California about the time things began turning to crap a couple of decades ago. But I still have many friends in SoCal and visit fairly often. I also miss the wonderful weather and, yes, the freeway system.

HOV lanes are not always faster than the other lanes, but there are many times when they are. And when you are in one of those times, they are WONDERFUL. Ever drive on the 405 southbound around Manhattan Beach/Torrance/Long Beach at most daylight weekday hours? I did it for years, and it's not pretty what it can do to your head. But the HOV lane, whoosh.

As for deciding who gets that perk, that's a matter of politics and also load balancing. There's no benefit to HOV if the population allowed to use it is large enough that it becomes as congested as the other lanes. So someone has to lose.

As for subsidizing the Volt, I could care less if California decides it's worth going bankrupt in order to "feel good" about the environment. That's a state matter, and they can slide off into the ocean for all I care. Though I will miss those freeways.

Finally, those enormous solar panels will make a dandy flying object in a storm. Also, given the complexity, I would assume they are FAR from break-even in terms of cost/benefit. So once again, it's a matter of feel-good, not practicality.




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