The solar-powered car is getting closer to reality, but that’s not why General Motors just parceled out $7.5 million to a solar-panel company.
The Detroit Free Press reports that GM Ventures, the venture capital arm of GM, passed along the money to California’s Sunlogics, a manufacturer of solar panels and solar-power generation systems. As a result, Sunlogics will move to Michigan and hire 200 employees.
"Today's commitment by Sunlogics ... fits in perfectly with the overall approach we've taken to try to bring in high-tech companies ... to give us good-quality high-paying jobs," commented Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson to the Free Press.
What GM will get out of the deal are the design and installation of solar-charging canopies that will provide power at Chevy dealerships and GM plants, along with good karma (carma?) for further its green efforts.
GM also announced Friday that its Chevrolet is harnessing the power of the sun to install solar-powered electric charging stations for its Volts at dealerships in North America. The Green Zone initiative will generate electricity equivalent to 12 full vehicle charges per day and excess electricity created will help supplement the dealership’s power needs.
“The Chevrolet Green Zone will provide our U.S. dealers with added flexibility when it comes to charging their vehicles, while also reinforcing GM’s commitment to renewable energy projects,” stated Chris Perry, vice president, Global Chevrolet Marketing and Strategy.
Chevy's Green Zone Initiative is part of GM Ventures’ $7.5 million investment in Sunlogics, which is marketing its canopies to others. "We have a lot of interest from Canada and several cities in Canada," said Michael Matvieshen, the CEO of Sunlogics, to the Free Press. "It's really in its infancy."
In its first 13 months, GM Ventures has “announced investments in six companies totaling $45 million,” the newspaper notes, and “could complete as many as five additional investments” in the next 60 days. Some of the projects that have received money so far deal with electric commercial buses, wireless charging mats for cell phones and other devices, and plug-in hybrid commercial vans.
"We always look for a connection to the business," GM Ventures President Jon Lauckner said, according to the Free Press. "We make investments that either bring cost efficiencies to our business or bring benefits to our customers."
Continuing on the green theme, GM recently revealed it's exploring landfill-free alternatives to waste management, and that it's participating in the first real-world smart grid pilot with its electric car brand, Chevy Volt, which is also looking to be more environmentally-friendly through battery recycling.
For more on automakers' green initiatives vs. consumer perception, check out Interbrand's 2011 Best Green Global Brands, which features BMW, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Siemens, Toyota, and Volkswagen in the Top 50.