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Driving Cost Savings with LED Lighting

New lighting can help dealerships reduce energy and maintenance costs while creating an inviting atmosphere. BY ANTOINETTE MILETI

When it came time to build a new Mercedes-Benz dealership in Fort Mitchell, Ky., Collection Auto Group President Bernie Moreno had one goal in mind: create an all-LED lighting facility inside and out that drives the client experience beyond expectations.

“Our goal was to build the greatest dealership in the world,” Moreno explains. “We designed the building to be intuitive – here are lights that clearly guide you to each area. Every single lumen on the property is LED, from the post tops out front to the hanging fixtures in the showroom to the lights in the service bay.”

Collection Auto Group is not alone in its choice of LED lighting.

Today, auto dealerships are looking for ways to reduce energy and maintenance costs while still drawing the attention of prospective buyers. And many of them are turning to LED for the solution.

By improving the quality of lighting, dealers can benefit on both the top and bottom line. First, high-quality lighting delivers improved color rendering on the cars’ exteriors as well as better luminance inside the vehicles to showcase upholstery and interior designs. Second, reduced light levels and longer lamp life drive energy savings and lower maintenance costs.

The road to savings

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, lighting accounts for 18 to 55 percent of electricity consumption for most businesses.

Energy-efficient LED lighting is one way auto dealers are saving money on their lots while beautifully showcasing vehicles, adding a measure of security and enhancing the customer experience. Many dealers are becoming more aware of the importance of lighting in their lots and how the right lighting, from an operational standpoint, can help drive profits.

There are four common lighting application spaces in a dealership where LED can make an impact by replacing various legacy technologies like linear fluorescent lights and high pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures: outdoor lots, showrooms, service areas and ancillary spaces like back offices.

At Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell, Collection Auto Group uses GE Evolve™ LED Area Lights and Evolve™ LED Post Tops to illuminate its driveway and inventory. Advanced optics aim light precisely where it’s needed and away from neighbors’ yards adjacent to the property.

Illuminating Collection Auto Group’s lavish showroom, inviting offices and captivating client areas, including a café, is a collection of fashionable LED troffers that blend into the ceiling and linear bands of light integrated within it. Throughout the service center, suspended pendants and blade-like fixtures also help cut a striking aesthetic while reducing costs.

Meanwhile LED High Bay fixtures deliver crisp, uniform light across the shop floor, detail bay and parts department, meaning mechanics won’t be left in the dark whether under the hood or in the pit—where LED lighting is also installed.

A comparison showed that Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell will use about 40 percent less lighting energy with LED than with conventional technologies, saving $46,000 a year.

“When we looked at the energy savings we’re getting, and that it’s really the right thing to do for the environment, it’s just a win-win for everybody,” Moreno says.

Additional benefits

In addition to energy savings, the potential for reduced maintenance costs are another benefit of longer-lasting LED technology. These maintenance savings are particularly attractive when it comes to replacing difficult-to-access lamps, such as those found in service bays. With fewer maintenance responsibilities, employees can focus on helping customers and servicing vehicles—not climbing ladders.

Plus, installing LED fixtures in your dealership offers the ability to better control the lighting. Occupancy sensors and intelligent lighting controls can keep lights turned down until movement is detected. Dimming and on/off scheduling allow for maximum energy savings.

“People are blown away when they come in and see the amount of lighting and the control of the lighting—the way it doesn’t overwhelm, the way it spreads and provides a natural color for everything throughout the dealership, inside and outside,” says Moreno.

For Monroe Lee, owner of KIA AutoSport, reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs were driving factors for investigating new lighting solutions in a key area: dealer lots. Outdoor lighting is often the first impression customers see when entering the facility, as well as one of the largest users of electricity at a dealership.

Instead of traditional metal halide high intensity discharge (HID) fixtures, Monroe chose LED outdoor lighting fixtures with timers in his new Columbus, Ga., KIA AutoSport dealership.

“We tried to use energy-saving techniques throughout the whole design of this new dealership, which included energy-efficient lighting fixtures and timers to control when the lights are on,” said Lee. The result was a 20-33 percent increase in energy savings and reduced maintenance costs after installing the new lighting fixtures.

A custom solution

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the right dealership lighting, a professional lighting audit is a simple way for dealers to evaluate their current system and explore how other lighting technologies may look better, perform better and ultimately save money. When it’s time to invest in your dealership, consider an LED lighting solution as a first step to improved operations savings.

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