Fastlane

April 3, 2013

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Pontiac Allow GM Employees to Game the System

To General Motors employee and Chevrolet Volt owner Bob Dziurda, driving his Volt on a daily basis without allowing the gas engine to kick in has become somewhat of a game.

And thanks to the installation of 32 electric vehicle charging stations at the Pontiac Powertrain campus where he works, his odds to win the game just increased dramatically.

“Between my home and my parent’s house, I’ve mapped out where I can find charging stations to optimize the Volt’s electric motor and cut my dependence on gas,” said Dziurda. “But now that I have the option to charge at work, spending practically nothing on gas is a very real possibility.”

It used to be that the Chevrolet Volt community at Pontiac Powertrain had to share charging stations in the basement of the parking garage, because  plug in spaces were limited. In order to charge, employees had to coordinate schedules to determine who would charge in the morning and who would charge in the afternoon, as if charging stations were a basketball court you reserved at your local rec center.

“If it was later in the day, all six of the charging stations would be taken,” said Sheryl Forbes, another employee at Pontiac who owns a Volt. She was one of the first employees to buy a Volt because, even without workplace charging infrastructure available, she “just really liked the car.” But on colder days, when she couldn’t get a charge, the gas engine would kick in halfway home.

“If I can’t plug in, it defeats the purpose,” Forbes adds.

It’s the input of employees like Bob and Sheryl that drove the addition of charging stations in the parking lot of Pontiac Powertrain.

“The idea for installing these charging stations was the result of employee feedback that aligned with our corporate initiatives for workplace charging,” said Rodney Black, Director of Powertrain Engineering Operations.

Earlier this year, General Motors, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, pledged to increase workplace charging tenfold within five years. With more than 230 charging stations spread out across GM facilities in the U.S., the automaker is at the forefront of this initiative.

“It didn’t really come as a surprise to us that our employees wanted increased charging capabilities,” said Black. “If you own a Volt, it makes sense you would want somewhere to charge it.”

The charging stations on campus provide 110- and 220-volt charging options, with the latter providing a full charge in about four hours. At last count, there were 16 employees who owned Volts – half the number of available charging options. Those owners who once had to share charging now have ample options, but that could change in the near future.

“Employees who were considering buying an electric vehicle had questions about our plans for charging,” said Black. “I think we’ll see an increase in demand, now, as more employees decide to make that purchase with charging options available to them.”

When it comes to workplace charging, not only is GM playing the game, but they’re winning it, as well.

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