According to the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), energy costs can be a car dealership's third highest operating expense. With lighted parking lots, electric tool-filled repair shops, and technology-enhanced show rooms, auto dealers on average consume 18 percent more energy than a typical office building, collectively facing nearly $2 billion in electricity costs annually – a hefty price for local, family-owned businesses that make up roughly 80 percent of the industry.
Across the country, SunPower® solar dealers – many of which are also locally-owned small and medium-sized businesses themselves – have helped auto dealerships put empty rooftops and expansive parking lots to better use with high-efficiency solar energy systems. Oftentimes, these systems serve a dual purpose: While generating enough energy to significantly reduce an auto dealership's electricity costs, they also offer protection to whatever is underneath – be it a newly constructed roof or a fleet of new cars.
"Solar just makes good business sense in today's energy environment, and has become integral to many of our facilities' energy-efficient designs," said Linda McGinty, Vice President of Real Estate, Luther Auto Group. "Over the last five years, we've worked with Energy Concepts to install over 450 kilowatts of high-efficiency SunPower solar at 10 of our dealerships across Minnesota, and have seen significant energy savings as a result."
Featured automotive companies with SunPower solar include:
Luther Auto Group in Minnesota. As the largest privately owned automotive group in the Midwest, Luther now has 454 kilowatts of solar installed across 10 locations. SunPower dealer Energy Concepts sold, designed and installed the systems which combined are projected to generate more than $2.1 million in electricity cost savings over 25 years.
Covert Auto in Texas. Serving the Central Texas community for five generations, Covert now has 125.6 kilowatts installed across the roofs of its Ford and Chevy dealerships in Hutto. Freedom Solar Power sold, designed and installed the systems which combined meet 53 percent of the company's electricity needs and are expected to generate more than $500,000 in energy savings over 25 years.
Boulder Nissan in Colorado. More than 50 kilowatts of rooftop solar is currently installed at Boulder Nissan, well known in the community for its leadership advancing the adoption of electric vehicles. SunPower dealer Independent Power Systems sold, designed and installed the system which meets 20 percent of the company's electricity needs and is expected to generate $384,000 in energy savings over 25 years when combined with the dealership's upgrade to LED lighting throughout the facility.
"It's inspiring to help auto dealers see a return on their solar investment in five to seven years, with some becoming cash-flow positive in as little as one month," said Ryan Ferrero, CEO of Ignyte Lab which partnered with Independent Power Systems, a SunPower dealer. "When we can show auto dealership owners the financial benefits of using renewable energy and adopting sustainable business practices, high-quality solar energy solutions end up selling themselves. And with more than 17,000 new car dealers across the U.S., there's a huge opportunity to help more in the industry save on electricity costs with solar."
Like car dealers, global automakers recognize the benefits of investing in solar as well. In Plano, Texas, SunPower is working with Toyota to install an 8.79-megawatt system at the Toyota Motor North America's new headquarters. When complete, it is expected to be the Lone Star State's largest corporate office on-site solar installation among non-utility companies.
"It's no surprise that an increasing number of auto customers find solar to be a reliable, effective way to reduce electric bills while freeing up operating capital and improving their environment with emission-free energy," said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president. "Through relentless innovation, SunPower has created smart, simple, and cost-effective solar systems that allow businesses in any industry maximize their investment, earning more savings over time."
There are currently more than 17 megawatts of SunPower solar under construction or operating at auto companies across the U.S. To learn more about the benefits of solar from car customers with SunPower systems, visit the SunPower blog here or webpage here.
With more than 30 years of proven experience, SunPower is a global leader in solar innovation and sustainability. Our unique approach emphasizes the seamless integration of advanced SunPower technologies, delivering The Power of One® complete solar solutions and lasting customer value. SunPower provides outstanding service and impressive electricity cost savings for residential, commercial and power plant customers. At SunPower, we are passionately committed to changing the way our world is powered. And as we continue shaping the future of Smart Energy, we are guided by our legacy of innovation, optimism, perseverance and integrity. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, SunPower has dedicated, customer-focused employees in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. Since 2011, we've been majority-owned by Total, the fourth largest publicly-listed energy company in the world. For more information, visit www.sunpower.com.