MADISON, WI – When you’re the number one car dealership in the Midwest for hybrid sales, what do you do as a follow up? If you’re Smart Toyota on Odana Rd. in Madison, you step up your ecologically savvy game by powering your business with solar energy.
In October, Smart Toyota began having solar panels installed on the rooftop of their new vehicle & service center facility, becoming the first and only dealership in Wisconsin to start using solar energy to help power their operations. The installation will be complete and certified in November.
The National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) notes that auto dealerships face close to $2 billion in energy costs annually, their third highest operating expense. Many dealerships and auto manufacturers like Toyota are investing in a variety of energy upgrades like solar energy, efficient LED lighting, and electric vehicle charging stations, all of which are being implemented by Smart Toyota.
Solar power is one way to alleviate energy expenditures, which are a direct result of energy-intensive showrooms and lots accompanied by long operating hours. The dealership is not only looking to reduce their operating costs, but also to build a more sustainable business and demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability.
Smart’s system will be a 325 kilowatt DC (direct current) rated structure. That means they estimate the system will generate 429,154 kilowatt hours per year in its first year alone. The rate of energy production will diminish by about 1 percent per year over its estimated 25-year lifespan, meaning in that quarter-century, the solar system will yield about 9,655,417 kilowatt hours.
The system will be comprised of 940 SolarWorld panels and be installed through a joint effort of Electric Construction and Eland Electric out of Green Bay, WI.
Smart anticipates their new solar panel system will annually generate about 37 percent of the energy needed to run the building, about 50 percent in the summer months. The project will be completed, certified and operational in November.
Auto dealerships across the country have started installing solar panels with increased frequency. In states like New York and California, where electricity is more expensive, dealerships are relying on the sun to help them cut costs. In other states, like Texas and Florida, dealerships have built separate structures to mount their solar panels so cars can be parked underneath them to protect the vehicles from sun damage. And Colorado recently launched the “Colorado Solar Project 2020,” a collaboration between the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association and two solar energy companies, to get auto dealerships in the state onto the solar grid.
Smart Motors was founded in 1908 by O.D. Smart and is one of the nation’s oldest automotive dealerships, is the mid-west’s largest hybrid dealer and Wisconsin’s #1 volume Toyota dealer. Located at 5901 Odana Road, Smart Motors is Wisconsin’s only two-time President’s Cabinet Award recipient from Toyota Motor Sales for superior customer service & sales volume. For more information visitwww.smarttoyota.com