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News > Case Study: Auto Dealer Goes Solar for Business and Environmental Reasons
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News Release Date: 07/20/16
Problem
While auto manufacturers are driving efficiency with smarter engines, hybrid and/or electric technology,and streamlined design, auto dealers have generally not followed suit with large energy-saving projects.In addition, selling and servicing cars consumes more energy than a lot of people realize.
 
However, one dealer, Motorcars Honda of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, set the ambitious goal to dramatically reduce their energy usage, produce the majority of their electricity onsite with solar and offset the carbon emissions of the vehicles they sell.
 
Solution
Dovetail Solar & Wind worked with the dealership to implement a large dual-barreled solar canopy structure covering the new and used vehicle lots. The 335 kW system utilizes 1,239 SolarWorld 270 watt modules and 14 SolarEdge 20K inverters.
 
Services
Dovetail provided consultation, site analysis, design, system construction and commissioning services.
 
Outcome and Benefits
The system generates 65% of the annual power used by the car dealership. In addition, the system has helped Motorcars Honda achieve another important goal. According to Trevor Gile, General Manager of Motorcars Honda, “We have offset the carbon footprint of every new Honda sold here, making us basically carbon-neutral.”

In fact, Motorcars Honda has been named the first carbon-neutral automotive dealership in the world by BP. The dealership is also one of only 10 U.S. dealerships to receive Honda's Environmental Leadership Platinum Award, and was named 2015 Ohio Business of the Year by Green Energy of Ohio.

The solar system's unique canopy design provides numerous business, customer, and operational benefits:
  • Going green was as much a business decision as an environmental one. The cost of energy continues to climb, while the price of solar technology has plummeted in recent years.
  • The dealership estimates their solar investment will pay for itself in 7-10 years.
  • With the cars under roof, customers enjoy a more pleasant shopping experience as they are protected from the elements, whether snow, rain, or hot direct sun.
  • When snow falls, the dealership saves the employee time and effort needed to clear the cars and plow the lot. This also extends the life of the lot’s surface, another significant expense savings.
  • The dealership enjoys the distinct competitive advantage — and the resulting PR halo effect — of demonstrating not only a concern for the environment, but also taking action to reduce their impact upon it. The growing sales of hybrids and electrics show that people care enough about the environment to put their money behind their care; this will certainly extend to their choice of auto dealer.
Chuck Gile, President of Motorcars Honda and Motorcars Toyota, sees the project not only as a wise business decision but also as an act of environmental stewardship. He says, “We are realizing a significant amount of savings in our energy costs, but even more importantly, saving energy is simply the right thing to do. Businesses have to do their part to reduce their impact on the environment.”
 

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