Electric Vehicle Charging Station Erected With Solar Panels In Illinois

Posted on March 21st, 2012 by

Curtis Pascarella, Owner of Phillips Chevrolet, discusses why his dealership decided to install a solar powered electric vehicle charging station, the first of its kind in Illinois.

Full transcript:

Ben Lack: Tell us a little bit about your business and the dealerships.
Curtis Pascarella: We’re located in a suburb of Chicago, and we’ve been in business for forty three years. We have been the #1 Selling Chevy Dealer in Illinois for the past 6 years. I’m really proud of being the first auto dealership in Illinois to construct a solar charging station for electric vehicles. I’m really excited about it. No charge for charging. Free to the public.
Ben Lack: Why does having a solar charging station appeal to you?
Curtis Pascarella: We want to promote the Chevy Volt and its benefits. We’ve been one of the leaders in Chicago land and Illinois promoting this type of technology. We’re the first dealership in Illinois to display a Volt. We purchased three from East Coast Chevy dealers eight months before they became available for sale in Illinois. We went to schools and organizations and demonstrated the Volt, and we’re still doing it now.  We want to get the word out on electric vehicles and their benefits. We truly believe in them. We want to get the message out as far as fuel efficiency, cutting dependence on foreign oil, cleaning the air and reducing emissions.
Ben Lack: With gas prices increasing over the last couple of months, there has been some talk that the buying habits of the potential car buyers’ changing to more fuel efficient cars and you’re on the front lines. You speak to potential buyers all the time. Is that a fair assessment and shows some additional thoughts on how much that gas prices are really affecting someone’s purchasing?
Curtis Pascarella: Gas prices are affecting buying habits.  At this time last year, our truck and cars sales were even. This year, cars are outselling trucks two to one. In fact, our Chevy Cruze compact car that gets forty two miles per gallon (high way) is the number one selling vehicle for us.
Ben Lack: Chevy Volt has got a lot more attention because of increasing gas prices?
Curtis Pascarella: It has.
Ben Lack: Has increasing gas prices only increased interest in the car or has it gotten people to purchase it and ultimately you able to move more units of the vehicles?
Curtis Pascarella: Increased gas prices have increased interest and sales of the Volt. In fact last month, our Volt sales were much stronger than normal.  Nationwide, Volt sales in February were up 70% versus January.
Ben Lack: What do you guys do to help overcome some of the common obstacles when customers look at high grade electric vehicles?
Curtis Pascarella: We make sure our customers drive the Volt to experience it’s impressive ride and handling, and talk about it’s fuel saving and environmental benefits. Price is a concern.  Right now, our customers can receive a federal tax credit up to $7,500, and an Illinois rebate up to $4,000 when purchasing a Volt, which  helps quite a bit.  There’s also range anxiety with electric vehicles.  Not with the Volt. After the electric supply is gone, the Volt seamlessly converts into a gas mode providing an extra 344 EPA estimated miles.  I believe the Volt, with it’s gas mode, is the right vehicle at this time. More charging stations need to be constructed across the U.S.
Ben Lack: Your charging station helps overcome some of those concerns?
Curtis Pascarella: Yes. We are offering free charging to the public. Our chargers have universal plugs to accommodate most electric vehicles. We have a shopping plaza across the street, grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants things like that. So a person can shop or dine while their vehicle is being charged.Ten new electric vehicles are due to come out this year. Chevrolet has an all electric Chevy Spark due out in 2013.  With our solar charging station, we will be prepared to handle the selling and servicing of these vehicles.
Ben Lack: Give us a little more insight into that station. How many canopies do you have and on average, how much power can each station generate per year?
Curtis Pascarella: It’s an eight-stall station. We’ve got five chargers. It generates thirty two thousand kilowatt hours per year.  That’s equivalent to twelve cars receiving a full charge a day.
Ben Lack: What types of panels are you using? What types of chargers, vehicle charging stations are you using?
Curtis Pascarella: The solar panels are Lumos LX 185 mono crystalline frameless panels. We’re using right now Eaton level two chargers, two hundred forty volts.  Sunlogics is the company that supplied the soar panels and installed the charging station.
Ben Lack: What’s your relationship with, like with them? Do they provide you with the recommendations on design and installs?
Curtis Pascarella: GM is an investor in Sunlogics, and has a program to help Chevrolet dealers install solar charging stations.
Ben Lack: Does the state provide you with any financial incentives to build the charging station?
Curtis Pascarella: No, they did not.
Ben Lack: Why are you in the business? And why did you choose to do what you’re doing?
Curtis Pascarella: I love the business. Things are changing so rapidly with new technology in the auto industry. It is so exciting.  Electric vehicles have so many benefits. This is the future, and it’s coming faster than we think.  We want to be prepared.


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