Despite unprecedented inventory delays resulting from the pandemic, the automotive industry continues to grow. According to the latest Global Automotive Market Report, the industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.7% from 2020 to 2030, reaching 122.83 million units by 2030. Prior to the pandemic, about 450,825 cars were sold in Texas in 2018, making it the third best-performing state in terms of car sales.
Consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on sustainability factors, and it’s challenging auto dealers to look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint to meet the needs and wants of their consumers. While there are many ways auto dealers can reduce their carbon footprint, solar carports have proven to not only reduce energy costs, but are also an effective way to protect valuable inventory.
Reduce Inventory Loss with Hail Protection
While lowering energy costs is the primary driver for businesses to invest in solar energy, solar carports have unique benefits for auto dealers. According to the 2020 NICB ForeCAST(™) report, Texas was the top state in total hail loss claims from 2017 through 2019, with 637,977 hail loss claims, accounting for 23% of total claims during that period.
Most auto dealerships with inventory in open surface lots invest in hail insurance — but that can be costly. One way to protect against hail is with solar carports. With covered inventory, auto dealerships can protect their inventory from hail damage and see savings on their insurance premiums.
Rush Enterprises partnered with the Big Sun Community Solar program to offer solar carports at their trucking center in Converse, Texas. With 3,500 solar panels, this is the largest solar carport installation in Texas and provides shade to 181 of their semi-trucks. These carports protect inventory from hail damage, something they experienced in the past.
“We always have the threat of hail damage. In 2016, we experienced well over $1 million in damage to our inventory. The solar carports mitigate any of those damages going forward.” said Steve Owens, Regional General Manager, Rush Truck Centers — San Antonio.
Not only do the solar carports protect their inventory, but Rush also doesn’t have to use resources to move inventory to and from their auto repair center building during extreme weather events, saving them time and money.
Take Advantage of the Latest Tax Credits
Commercial businesses can take advantage of federal tax credits to reduce the cost of solar energy investment. The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was introduced in 2006 to incentivize residences and businesses to invest in solar energy and has been fundamental in the growth of the solar industry. The tax credit started at 30% and is now at 26%.
To take advantage of the 26% tax credit, a solar project’s construction would need to begin in 2022.
The Ancira Auto Group recently commissioned a solar carport installation at their KIA dealership in San Antonio and will take advantage of the 26% tax credit.
“We at Ancira are excited to bring solar carports to our dealership because not only will it bring long-term savings for our business, but we’re able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide shade to our customers, and it makes us feel like we’re being good stewards of our community,” said April Ancira, Vice President of Ancira Auto Group.
Improve Customer Experience with Shade
We all know it gets hot in Texas. A parked car can get up to 50 degrees hotter inside the car than the outside temperature. Trying to test drive vehicles in July and August in South Texas can be unbearable. Auto dealerships have recently invested in shade for their inventory. Still, it has usually been with cloth canopies that typically need to be replaced every few years because of wear and tear from the sun.
Solar carports provide shade and use the sun’s energy to generate solar savings.
When Bobby Cavender, President of the Cavender Auto Group, decided to invest in solar carports with Big Sun Solar, the primary drivers were the financial benefits. Now with solar carports at five San Antonio-area Cavender dealerships, the other realized benefits have been hail protection and the improved customer experience, something most important to Cavender.
“For the consumer, it provides an incredible comfort level with the shade that’s produced from these solar panels because these vehicles in the summertime can get up to 140 degrees inside,” said Cavender.
While businesses are looking to solar energy to reduce their energy costs, auto dealerships have a unique opportunity with solar carports. Solar carports not only generate significant savings on their electric bills but they also:
- Improve the customer experience by providing shade to customers and employees;
- Lower insurance premiums by protecting valuable inventory from extreme weather events;
- Show a visible statement to their customers on their commitment to sustainability and
- Can be used in marketing materials illustrating their green initiatives.
If you manage or own an auto dealership and want to reduce overhead costs, get in touch with Big Sun Solar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about the Ancira Auto Group and its solar carports at https://www.bigsunsolar.com/customers/ancira.
Read more about the Cavender Auto Group and its solar carports at https://www.bigsunsolar.com/customers/cavender.