In the US, few consumers would probably identify GM [NYSE:GM] as an eco-friendly company. But in Spain, the General is acting downright green, planning to cover the roof of its largest European factory entirely in solar panels — 2,000,000 square feet of them. The 85,000 panels will provide 10 megawatts of green electricity while will be used to build Opel sub-compacts; put into the grid, that would be enough power to supply 4600 households. Whatever the assembly line doesn’t sap will be sold back to the local power grid, helping GM recoup some of its cost and invest in solar technology in 19 other manufacturing locations.
This comes on the heels of news that Toyota [NYSE:TM] will be including Kyocera-made [NYSE:KYO] solar panels on the roof of a coming generation of its Prius hybrid to power the air conditioning system. It stands to reason that if solar power can generate enough power to run an assembly plant, that it could conceivably help power a car’s drivetrain — cost notwithstanding, of course, on the already loss-leader Prius. If GM showed as much enthusiasm for cutting down the consumer’s cost in gasoline as it does for cutting its own electric bill, it might be held in higher regard by the American public.