The largest solar plug-in charge port in Canada launched this week at Baka Communications in Etobicoke, Ont., where it unveiled its large eight-charger solar carport.
The wireless company also announced that it is converting 60 per cent of its fleet to plug-in vehicles, and has purchased nine Chevrolet Volts that will regularly charge up at the station’s eight Level 2 (240-volt), 30-amp charging stations. Baka will also offer EV and plug-in vehicle owners free use of any available charging station during business hours, with plans to roll out after-hours and weekend use “in the next few months,” said Charlene Killingbeck, Baka’s marketing manager.
The 20-kilowatt solar carport is one of the largest commercial solar charging station installations in North America, said the company. It’s not quite a direct sunshine-to-fuel transformation, as the Ontario-made Heliene solar panels feed electricity into the grid as well as into a back-up lithium-ion battery, while plug-in vehicles connected to any of the eight EVSEs simultaneously pull electricity from the grid. The panels also power the carport’s LED lights and security system.
The innovative solar-powered EV carport is intended to generate enough clean, renewable energy to recharge Baka’s Volt fleet for 25 years. This will reduce Baka’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 460 tons and allow more than 1.5 million kilometres of clean driving, the company estimates.
It also highlights the firm’s ambitious environmental efforts, as Baka plans to install an even-larger 80-kW solar array panel on its roof in early 2013, said Killingbeck, as well as more publicly accessible EV charge stations.
VW seven-seat crossover coming to North America
A new seven-seat VW crossover is reportedly on its way to North America, and a crossover smaller than the compact Tiguan is also in development, though whether that one reaches these shores is still a question mark.
Wire service Bloomberg recently quoted VW AG’s Peter Thul confirming comments about the seven-seat people mover coming in the next few years, first made by development chief Ulrich Hackenberg in an interview with Germany’s Automobilwoche. The large crossover will provide a seven-seat alternative to a minivan for American drivers, said Thul, though that usually means Canada as well.
This doesn’t bode well for the future of the VW Routan, the Dodge Caravan’s fraternal twin produced in Windsor, Ont., though no mention was made in the report of dropping the slow-selling minivan.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz diverting cars from Europe
BMW will send “tens of thousands” of vehicles originally earmarked for debt-ravaged Europe to the United States and Asia this year, trade journal Automotive News reported recently, though BMW Canada says none of those thousands of vehicles will arrive in Canada, as far as Canadian officials know.
“We do not expect to receive more units from Germany,” said an official within BMW Canada, who requested anonymity. “We currently have a very good balance of inventory for the remainder of the year, and to start 2013.”
Mercedes-Benz Canada suggested that it will receive more vehicles than originally planned this year, but not because of falling European markets, but because it has requested more production for higher-than-expected sales.
“There is a team of people in Stuttgart who monitors very closely how things are going in all markets, and there are constant production adjustments on a worldwide basis,” said JoAnne Caza, communications manager for Mercedes-Benz in Canada. She notes that the firm’s sales are up 10 per cent this year, and that’s without sales of its high-volume B-Class hatchback, though part of that was previously planned growth for 2012.
But she discounted the possibility of more sales incentives on slow-selling European vehicles, or a greater variety of diesels or hatchbacks coming into the Canadian market in the short term because of a slowing European market. “It's sometimes difficult to get the additional production [we request] because our cars have different specs and engines, so it’s not just a quick swap from market to market.”