General Motors to Utilize Wind Power to Manufacture Large Pickups and SUVs

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【Summary】General Motor’s large pickups and SUVs may be some of the automaker’s least fuel-efficient offerings, but the American brand is looking to reduce the vehicles’ impact on the environment by using wind power to run the plants where they’re built.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Oct 10, 2018 2:30 PM PT
General Motors to Utilize Wind Power to Manufacture Large Pickups and SUVs

It's no secret that large pickup trucks and SUVs are some of the most least fuel-efficient offerings on the market. It's one of the reasons why Fiat Chrysler Automobiles introduced a mild hybrid setup on the Ram 1500. While General Motors doesn't have any plans to electrify its large vehicles it's looking for another way to make the vehicles' impact on the environment less. Instead of using fuel to power the factories where the SUVs and pickups are built, General Motors, in an ironic move, is looking to use wind power. 

Going Green For The Environment 

According to a report by The Detroit Free Press, GM is looking to make the switch to 100-percent renewable energy sources by 2050 for all of its global facilities. While that sounds like a lofty goal, General Motors is already on a direct path to reach its goals, as the automaker stated that it would be 20 percent of the way there by the end of 2018. 

"We do want to be known as a green company; that's one of the key reasons we're doing this as well as for price stability," Rob Threlkeld, GM's global manager of renewable energy, told the outlet. "You don't get the price spikes this way, like you do with fuel, and it reduces the environment footprint of the vehicle you're driving." 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the outlet, ranked GM 76 out of 100 of the largest green power users. GM has also partnered with CMS Enterprises, an unregulated entity of Consumers Energy, to get wind power from farms that are owned by the entity. Apparently, GM's long-term approach to sourcing and using renewable energy has ended with "millions of dollars in savings" for the brand, said Threlkeld. 

In its latest efforts, General Motors is specifically targeting wind farms in three states: Ohio, Illinois, and Texas. For its manufacturing plants in Ohio and Indiana, General Motors began using wind power from Northwest Ohio Wind Farm on October 1. The Northwest Ohio Wind Farm generates 100 megawatts of power. 

GM gets another 100 megawatts of power from HillTopper Wind Farm in Illinois, which went online in December. Power from that facility also goes to the automaker's plants in Ohio and Indiana. Chevrolet and GMC build the Silverado and Sierra pickups in Fort Wayne, Indiana, while the Chevrolet Cruze sedan is built in Lordstown, Ohio. 

Why Texas And Ohio Are Crucial For GM

New wind farms will continue to be added to GM's list of available sites, with Cactus Flats Wind Farm in Texas set to formally be blended into the mix on October 9. Unlike the other facilities, Cactus Flats Wind Farm will generate 50-megawatts (it's good for 148 megawatts) for GM's Arlington Assembly plant in Arlington, Texas. That facility is where the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, and Cadillac Escalade are made. 

"Ohio and Texas, are deregulated markets, so you can buy electric from any resource there," said Threlkeld. "Wind and solar are the lowest cost resource. We're buying into long-term contracts that have no fuel components, so we can put price stability in the cost build these vehicles." 

While coming out with more fuel-efficient versions of large vehicles seems like a better option, Threlkeld claims that manufacturing plants are the most power-hungry item for GM, which means that finding an alternative power source to help manufacture its least-fuel-efficient vehicles is still part of the solution of creating more environmentally-friendly vehicles. 

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