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

GM's Tracking Solar Tree in Warren, Michigan  (Source:
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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And yet
By FITCamaro on 11/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: And yet
By lightfoot on 11/17/2011 12:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
Who needs police, firefighters or teachers when you can use that money to subsidize an upper middle class yuppie's ride?

RE: And yet
By Ringold on 11/17/2011 1:58:45 PM , Rating: 2
Pollsters find very few want to say they're upper or lower classes. Apparently, the vast majority is somehow middle class, or some of the infinite flavors thereof.

But IMO, if you can afford a luxury like a Volt, you're upper class. Perhaps not plutocrat-levels of wealth, but upper class. It's serious dough, which rapidly depreciates, just to boost warm fuzzy feelings and ego.

RE: And yet
By Jedi2155 on 11/18/2011 5:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
I would not say upper class. In the end its just 32k for a car similarly priced to a fully loaded Camry/Prius/Accord.

RE: And yet
By mindless1 on 11/20/2011 5:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
I feel it is upper class because it is a luxury item, extra money being spent beyond what it needed to cover the basics.

For example a person could buy a Chevy Blazer or a Cadillac Escalade, or in this case we can't really compare a Chevy to a Camry or Accord (two most popular and reliable sedans for several years), it'd have to be to another Chevy or Ford until the former two manage to maintain build quality and resale value.

They're paying thousands more for a toy/novelty in addition to it being a new car, for one of the least valued major brands available with the possible exception of Chrysler and arguably Hyundai... most arguable because we can only guess about reliability being not just a Chevy but being a new 1st generation design which will be improved year over year.

RE: And yet
By TSS on 11/17/2011 12:38:59 PM , Rating: 3
Well that's not really fair. For instance, it's often said that california is the 8th economy of the world. The other 8th economy of the world (since california is a state not a country) is Italy.

The GDP is comparable, about $1,9 trillion for california and $2,05 trillion for italy. Italian debt is around 112% GDP, Californian debt, in all estimates is between $275 billion or $750 billion, or around 40% of GDP at the very worst.

California's deficit right now is estimated around $25,4 billion. Italy's deficit for 2011 should be 4% gdp, or $82,2 billion.

So all in all, on it's own california isn't doing that bad a job. Yes there are structural problems and yes the deficit has been run up even though it's less then other countries. But it's still much less then other countries.

What's weighing you down though, and the thing italy does not have, is the federal debt. With a population of 37,250,000 and a national debt of $15 trillion, California's share of that based on it's number of citizens is roughly $1,8 trillion. If we go on basis of GDP, since california's 13% of the US, their share would be $1,95 trillion. Which basically means california has to pay for italy, ontop of their own expenditures.

And that's debt you americans all share in and are all guilty of running up.

RE: And yet
By Spuke on 11/17/2011 1:29:53 PM , Rating: 3
And that's debt you americans all share in and are all guilty of running up.
You gave some great info until the last sentence. Our national debt is NOT personal debt. We have sh!t to do with the national debt other than we (citizens) DO OWN most of it. There is some serious misleading going on to the general public, not surprisingly given our talking parrots aka the media. I'll list some:

1. China does NOT "own" the US. WE, the citizens OWN the US because we own an order of magnitude more of the US's debt than China. China owns the most FOREIGN debt and barely at that. Japan is a really close second place and was the major owner until recently.
2. Foreign debt is such a tiny percentage of total debt that it's not worth mentioning but they have everyone so concerned over it.
3. Smoke and mirrors. We own the vast majority of the debt. The government owes US. Unless the gov defaults, there's no problem. The REAL issue is the budget deficit . Don't be fooled by the man waving the carrot. China is the least of our worries, that deficit is.

RE: And yet
By Ringold on 11/17/2011 2:24:39 PM , Rating: 3
China held, combined with Hong Kong, 1.257 trillion, or about 8% of the total outstanding debt stock, as of September according to the Treasury.

If China felt like taking a big loss in the process, it could effectively cripple our ability to borrow more money. The world at the moment I doubt has enough appetite to eat over a trillion dollars when the real return is pretty much negative at this point. We'd be forced to, immediately, move to a surplus budget, or print money (such a bold move would destroy the dollar), or.. default.

Keep in mind our yields are only as low as they are because, for the moment, Europe is such a titanic train wreck. Once that turns around, appetite for them will drop off, both internationally and domestically. Dont fool yourself, we're walking a tight-rope. But you're right in one thing, the debt becomes irrelevant if we would tackle the deficit. Even just a balanced one would make it miniscule over time thanks to growth.

RE: And yet
By Solandri on 11/17/2011 6:37:30 PM , Rating: 2
If China felt like taking a big loss in the process, it could effectively cripple our ability to borrow more money.

The problem with this picture is that we're even in a state where being unable to borrow money is something to be worried about. Somehow, the mentality of the minority of credit card users who carry huge monthly balances without any real plan for ever paying it off, that mentality is pervasive in government.

RE: And yet
By Reclaimer77 on 11/17/2011 7:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
You nailed it Solandri. The BEST thing that could ever happen to us is if we couldn't borrow debt anymore in the longrun.

Warren Buffet has the right idea:

"I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that any time there's a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."

Now that's something we could all get behind! :)

RE: And yet
By Spuke on 11/17/2011 9:01:45 PM , Rating: 2
If China felt like taking a big loss in the process, it could effectively cripple our ability to borrow more money.
Japan could do the same as could the UK or a combination of countries on that list if they so chose. I think, at best, it's a possibility. It's definitely not a certainty. My point is China gets singled out simply because they're the new boogeyman and all the sheeple just follow right along like this is new. The exact same was said about Japan when I was a kid. I guess they're ok now?

RE: And yet
By TSS on 11/17/2011 9:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
Your post does not make sense. Considering what you've replied to. I didn't mention china, nor from who that $15 trillion is borrowed from. Nor does it matter. It's people who lose money when you default, and as such will never invest in you again.

But i'll reply to your points regardless.

1. China does own the US, or atleast parts of it. the national debt does not in any way reflect chinese investments into american real estate. I've read multiple articles which showed an increase of chinese investors taking advantage of bottom prices in the current american market. Also, china has made trade deals like crazy all over the globe in recent years. If their not chipping away at the US, their chipping away at US influence for sure.

2. As mentioned above, wether it's foreign or public debt hardly matters. If you lend the US government money that'll count as public money. If the US defaults, you lose that money. I'd worry more about public then foreign debt if i where you.

3. lol who do you think pays for that deficit? The reason why everybody is up in arms about foreign lending is because 40 years ago, you didn't owe *any* money to any country. And the % of debt you owe to foreigners is increasing rapidly. Which tells me that deficit is largely paid for by foreigners, and if it isn't now it will be shortly.

Do you even know why the national debt is such a huge frickin problem? Not because of the debt - but because of the debt interest. The money you have to pay because you >already spent money< >you didn't have<.

In 2011 you paid $454 billion dollar in interest on the national debt. that's $50 billion MORE then what california is going to spend in it's 2011-2012 budget. And what did that money give you? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You do understand that if you'd burned that money, at the very least you would've gotten heat from the fire?

And to make matters worse, that same figure already was $451 billion back in 2008, but you still had 5% interest rates back then. Their practically 0% now. What do you think happens when interest rates go up again? which, at some point, they are going to have to. And your debt isn't decreasing.

The deficit isn't a problem, it's mostly a problem caused by unwilling politics. Go look up historical tax rates - both the rich and the poor enjoy the lowest tax rates in a century. They where lower only once - in the run up to the great depression. You can fix that with 1 law. But the national debt and the interest you pay on that will be a drag on your economy for decades to come.

RE: And yet
By Ringold on 11/17/2011 2:10:37 PM , Rating: 2
The same folks that keep the US Debt Clock up to date do the same for states, and the number they get to is currently 372 billion.

However, that doesn't include unfunded pension liabilities, whereas a lot of countries, in their projections, take in to account their future welfare spending. Toss that in and California starts to look more like Italy. Stanford last year estimated 500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. California lowered even from that report its estimated returns on investments, which would balloon Stanford's estimate to 884 billion.

That puts you at a total of 1.25 trillion, plus the burden of federal debt, both of which goes up every single day.

And thats just with the shady BS accounting governments are allowed to get away with. Take away the slights of hand, and no doubt California's in an even worse position.

RE: And yet
By TSS on 11/17/2011 9:23:13 PM , Rating: 3
Actually the largest figure i used, the $750 billion, includes pensions liabilities and such. The official figure is more like $150 billion.

If you wanna compound the numbers just say that america is $54 trillion in debt. Which is actually true and no sleight of hand required.

It's simply adding up all state and local debt to the federal debt, then adding business, personal, household, creditcard debt, in other words all debt. Why does that matter to californians you say?

Well suppose california goes broke. All debts are written off. So far, no biggie. But the very next day, salaries have to be paid. That requires revenue. Since they just went broke, nobody outside of california is going to lend to california. You can't just lay off everybody and expect the economy to just go on happily. So then the citizens of california have to borrow money to california. Which they won't have since they all have personal and creditcard debt up to their necks. So other states will have to lend money. Money they don't have, because their borrowing to keep their budgets up themselves. The economy of cali will crash, and since it's part of the US, the US economy will take a hit aggrevating budget issues in other states.

It's all connected. If one thing goes, everything else will get a hit. Wether they can take the hit determines the depth of the downfall. That's why greece is such a problem right now, everything is stretched so thin that when they go, uncontrolled, everything falls down. And there's no way of a "controlled" way to let italy fail which is why markets are at the moment extremely volitile.

If that's all not mind blowing enough though, i could always mention the $110 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities of the USA, and the fact that total assets is about $75 trillion. Go wrap your head around that fact.

If that isn't enough, i could mention the $625 trillion CDS market, which is nearly all american. Thanks to that, no matter what country in the world goes broke, it'll cost the US twice as much as that country. Did you know that if greece enters a default event, AIG will get hit hard enough to require another government bailout?

One of my favorite things to imagine is what my grandkids will say about this whole situation. Born after it all came crashing down, they will not be able to even comprehend why we all allowed this insanity to not only happen, but continue (i'm 24 right now, for reference).

RE: And yet
By Keeir on 11/17/2011 3:44:42 PM , Rating: 2

I think it would be fair more fair to look at both State Debt and State Deficit per Capita.

In State Debt, California is actually doing fairly well. Mass., Rhode Island, Conn., New York, etc are the ones having huge problems on a per capita basis for total debt.

Its the Deficit per Capita that is the issue. I think California may have moved into the #1 position there, but regardless, its nearly 1,000 per person every year... and thats after all the super "cuts" its been making.

Its pretty funny looking at State Deficit's per Capita map. Its essentially a Red/Blue map.

RE: And yet
By Spuke on 11/17/2011 9:04:50 PM , Rating: 2
I would have to agree here. Our problem is the budget deficit.

RE: And yet
By Reclaimer77 on 11/17/2011 8:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
This sums up California perfectly lol.

Hybrid in the HOV lane again?
By tng on 11/17/2011 11:22:54 AM , Rating: 2
Didn't CA kick all of the hybrids out of the HOV lane in July of last year?

All those Prius owners are going to be ticked off. After all what makes this one more green than a Insight or a Prius?

RE: Hybrid in the HOV lane again?
By bah12 on 11/17/2011 12:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
All those Prius owners are going to be ticked off. After all what makes this one more green than a Insight or a Prius?
The ability to drive about 40 miles on a charge. HOV access is only really important during commutes, and 40 miles is higher than average. So in essence, during a commute, it is an EV. Hard to quantify how it is "greener", but in short drives it would certainly be more of an EV than a Prius.

RE: Hybrid in the HOV lane again?
By mindless1 on 11/20/2011 8:56:25 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is, in larger metropolitan areas in CA, you can't equate 40 miles/charge to range because you're left sitting in traffic getting awful mileage and using power for radio, electronics, and A/C or heat if the temperature is adverse. Granted it's a small draw compared to the motors but point is, EPA mileage doesn't always come remotely close to real world MPG.

What do you want to bet that the number of pure electric vehicles caught dead in traffic rises exponentially within the next decade?

RE: Hybrid in the HOV lane again?
By bah12 on 11/17/2011 12:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
All those Prius owners are going to be ticked off. After all what makes this one more green than a Insight or a Prius?
The ability to drive about 40 miles on a charge. HOV access is only really important during commutes, and 40 miles is higher than average. So in essence, during a commute, it is an EV. Hard to quantify how it is "greener", but in short drives it would certainly be more of an EV than a Prius.

RE: Hybrid in the HOV lane again?
By Shig on 11/17/2011 1:51:37 PM , Rating: 2
I read a funny study that California did after they kicked the prius out of the HOV lanes. The study showed that traffic actually got much worse during rush hour because all the slow hyper-miling prius drivers were clogging the lanes right next to the HOV lanes.

Most drivers want them to go back.

RE: Hybrid in the HOV lane again?
By Samus on 11/17/2011 3:58:06 PM , Rating: 1
That solar tree is a great idea for SoCal. I have a Black Focus in San Diego and man, if I don't park it in the garage I am sweating up a storm if I don't leave by 9am to work.

By Dr of crap on 11/17/2011 12:17:15 PM , Rating: 2
It has been said a number of times that the true value of owning a Volt comes from the ability of driving around TOWN and only using the battery power. And you see the savings offered from the Volt if you DON'T drive for long distances and have to use the gas generator.
( That sounds like a plug for the Volt, which it isn't, and I would not own that car)

Now this is saying that the HOV lane on the FREEWAY is open to the VOLT! WHAT! Guess GM is trying all angles to sell these things!

And these trees - I hope our tax money will not be used to put these EXPENSIVE things up in parking lots.

By Spuke on 11/17/2011 12:50:32 PM , Rating: 2
Now this is saying that the HOV lane on the FREEWAY is open to the VOLT! WHAT! Guess GM is trying all angles to sell these things!
GM has nothing to do with what car gets HOV access in CA. It's ENTIRELY political.

By Dr of crap on 11/17/2011 4:19:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, and you don't think the GM MIGHT have made a politcal contribution to someone to get this passed??

Where have you been MR Naive?

By Master Kenobi on 11/17/2011 6:33:54 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, not necessary in California. Their idiot politicians do this sort of stuff all the time on their own to keep their ultra liberal voters happy. California likes their reputation as the state that pushes green to the maximum. Consequently they are also the most bankrupt state in the union. Coincidence? I think not.

By Spuke on 11/17/2011 9:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, CA does this sh!t on their own. No help needed from the outside.

not really...
By kattanna on 11/17/2011 11:26:39 AM , Rating: 2
"HOV lane access is a coveted perk in California,"

not really.. as most times you will have someone doing 55 in the lane and once in your stuck in it until the next exit as it is illegal to enter/exit the lane unless at designated places which is silly.

more often then not i can go faster in the slower lanes here in los angeles then i can in the "fast" lanes

RE: not really...
By Solandri on 11/17/2011 6:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
That's a "bug" in California's HOV lanes (called "carpool lanes" there). In most states, you can merge into and out of HOV lanes at any time. In California, someone had the bright idea of only allowing entry/exit for short stretches every few miles. This causes you to get stuck behind slow cars, and miss exits. I'm not sure what the benefit is supposed to be. Fortunately, they've been slowly fixing it and more and more carpool lanes are being switched to enter/exit any time you want.

The bigger issue has to do with the percentage of HOV lanes vs. percentage of carpooling drivers. If you have a 2-lane highway and add a HOV lane, 33% of the road capacity is reserved for carpoolers. But most of California's freeways are 4-lane, and adding a carpool lane means only 20% of the road capacity is reserved for carpoolers. If the percentage of cars with 2+ people exceeds 20%, the HOV lane is pretty useless as it can have just as much traffic as the regular lanes.

This is also the problem with granting HOV lane access to single drivers in eco-friendly vehicles. While it does encourage people to buy those vehicles, it further dilutes the usefulness of the lane. Now if just 20% of the cars have 2+ people or are HOV approved, the HOV lane is effectively useless.

Wouldn't it make more sense...
By darkpuppet on 11/17/2011 4:12:50 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it make sense to have the volt sit in traffic since it's not burning any gas (and little energy) when idle, whereas the gas guzzlers are pumping massive quantities of vile substances into Mother Nature's veins by the simple act of idling?

Nothing would be more pious and self-righteous than sacrificing one's commute in protection of the earth, no?

By Dr of crap on 11/18/2011 8:55:43 AM , Rating: 2

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.

By DrApop on 11/17/2011 12:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I can see giving access the the HOV lanes but CA is broke. They shouldn't offer the rebate. Granted, not too many Volts have been sold but nonetheless, CA doesn't have the money.

I do like the idea of solar trees, even if partially subsidized by the state. As long as EV/semi EV drivers pay something for the service. If it increases the number of EV's on the road it could stir businesses to also begin to install more solar trees rather than government - heck even installing power/non-solar chargers would be beneficial.

Negative comments
By JimboK29 on 11/17/2011 1:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry to say this, but the mindset that giving people a negative rating to hush it only works in reverse. Negative ratings, especially in another color, is magnet to me and I read those first. It's a 'ohhh - what did he say?' reaction. Curiosity is human nature. Right away, I read FitCamaro's post which is 100% factual. To me and probably many others here, a negative rating just means a liberal did not like it.

OH NO!!!!
By RBR on 11/17/2011 1:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
Just what we need, more slow drivers in the car pool lanes. Everyone was so glad when those cockroaches (Prius) finally not allowed to drive there. It made my commute so much faster. I hope the state changes their mind and doesn't allow this to occur.

"Solar" charging stations.
By nubie on 11/17/2011 1:19:27 PM , Rating: 2
This is great, and I like solar.

The problem is the marketing departments show it to the general public as though one tree can charge half a dozen cars, when I have serious doubts as to whether it could charge 2 cars un-assisted. I noted that the article stated the solar tree aided in charging them, but I wonder how much of the general population would glom onto that fact.

It isn't that hard to do either, just show a picture of 3-4 solar trees tied to one car, then say, this is what it takes to charge the car in a sunny state. It wouldn't hurt to show the mains line connection or a storage battery for remote location installs.

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