Chrysler Group just recognized 30 of its dealers who’ve performed well through its second annual Dealer Environmentally Conscious Operations program. Dealers are saving money by adopting energy efficient practices and looking for ways to make the changes pay for themselves. One of the more interesting examples has been Westgate Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, based in Raleigh, N.C. Westgate installed 420 solar panels on its service department and sold the power to the region’s electric utility at a fixed rate. It’s reducing energy costs $1,800 to $3,000 per month, depending on the volume of sunshine that make it to the solar panels.
Chrysler Group is emphasizing two accomplishments its dealer network is reaching – significant contributions to the environment and creating a sustainable enterprise. There’s also the operating cost savings part – which will take a while depending on the incentives available to the dealer and the cost of having the solar panels installed or other building structure investments needed for improved energy efficiency. Dealers can access incentive programs in some states that lower the solar panel installation cost quite a bit; and can start up energy efficiency programs such as changing over to LED lighting fixtures. Chrysler looks at how its dealers are doing in energy efficiency, waste recycling, wastewater control, bulk oil containment, vehicle lift maintenance, and community relations program.
The Chrysler dealers are based in 21 states, with four of them being in Michigan and four in Florida; California, North Carolina, and Texas each have two dealers recognized this year. They were selected based on data from dealership online surveys and in-dealership notes.
As for vehicles, Chrysler Group hasn’t done much at all in the green space. It is testing out some plug-in hybrid Ram pickups and a few other concept models. Parent company Fiat has introduced the Fiat 500e electric car to the US market; some say it’s a “compliance car” in California, but it does seem to be getting a good deal of interest from car shoppers.
National Automobile Dealers Association is in the process of having dealer members provide data in a benchmarking study through the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. They’re asking dealers to take a survey that will give EPA a benchmark to compare energy usage of dealers across the country, and to allow for certification of those dealers that perform well. Dealers are sharing their utility bills, total square footage, and different types of equipment being used at the dealership.
The NADA and EPA relationship goes back to 2007 in what’s called the Energy Ally program that was designed to help dealers reduce their energy consumption. Dealers are being educated on energy reduction and cost saving opportunities and strategies. KPA, a dealer services and internet marketing provider, now has an alliance with NADA through Energy Ally. KPA and other companies are helping NADA to benchmark at least 500 dealers on their energy usage.