“This is a very exciting point in our evolution,” said Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Envision.
The company has contracted with Cadillac and its Solar Tree will likely begin showing up at hundreds of dealerships around the country, Wheatley said.
Cadillac dealerships are going through a refresh and they’re all “greening up,” Wheatley said. They won’t all add solar, but for those dealerships that want solar, Envision is the only vendor they can use, Wheatley said.
He said the car manufacturer chose Envision for its iconic appearance. The Solar Tree isn’t just a bunch of solar panels tucked away on the roof. It’s architecturally and visually stunning.
“Car dealerships do a lot of things to draw your eye to them,” Wheatley said. “They use balloons and banners. This is kind of the ultimate method of doing that.”
The company has been working on its product to make it quicker and easier to install. “It used to take 12 weeks,” Wheatley said. “We just put one up in four days.”
Envision Solar has modularized everything so there is greater quality control of everything from the pre-cast concrete pillars that hold the tree up to the solar module tree top. It also means there’s little onsite construction and companies installing the trees don’t have to tear up their parking lots for installation.
“We’re kind of considered the Cadillac of our industry,” Wheatley said as further explanation for why the luxury car manufacturer chose Envision.
The company’s product does produce more energy than a standard solar installation, Wheatley said – about 25 percent more. It’s a dual-axis solar tracker that also serves as a canopy and carport. Since it’s suspended from a single pillar in the center rather than multiple pillars throughout, it’s visually attractive and allows more room underneath to park cars.
The Fremont dealership with have charging stations for six electric vehicles. Since some Cadillac dealers also carry Chevrolet, some might be charging the Volt at the solar trees. Even without the Volt, Cadillac is preparing to release its plug-in ELR, which will be able to charge under the trees. “This is very exciting,” Wheatley said.