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How solar power could help dealers make money during the EV shift — Mark Mears, Ryan Ferrero

On this edition of Inside Automotive we take a look at the ‘why’ behind an ongoing shift towards solar power and energy independence at dealerships. Host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Mark Mears, general manager and partner of Parkway Honda, and Ryan Ferrero, the director of auto industry electrification at Freedom Solar.

Mears is a longtime proponent of electrification, having been introduced to the cost-saving and eco-friendly potential of solar by his own family. He recently installed solar panels at his dealership, a move which he says was supported by Honda’s Green Dealer program. While his business’s operating costs have fallen since the installation, Mears notes the decision was not just financially responsible but also socially responsible. “Any amount of carbon we can take out of the air is a good thing for everybody,” he explains.

Ferrero, who also has a dealership background, notes that his goal is to scale solar power for the automotive business. Even though the link between transportation and energy has existed for decades, the two businesses have only recently started to form a relationship. “In just the last year…the solar industry has taught the auto industry an awful lot about electrifying facilities,” he remarks, just as “the auto industry has taught the solar industry an awful lot.”

As businesses in solar and automotive continued to work closer together, automakers discovered that the technology holds particular relevance for dealers. “I think manufacturers have realized some of the missteps: they’ve looked at EV infrastructure as a sunk cost that’s a burden on the dealers,” explains Ferrero, in reference to initiatives like Ford’s poorly-received EV partnership program. Rather than telling retailers that they must sacrifice monetary gain in the name of clean energy, OEMs are instead using solar to highlight how electrification can be another source of revenue. “…Now they’re saying…if you can have on-site power generation, you can save money. Some will even make money off of that, turning it into a passive revenue stream,” comments Ferrero. Solar power can also be stored for later use, decreasing the dealership’s reliance on utility companies to provide electricity for EV charging.

Mears and Ferrerro note that the demand for more electrification is high, both from a commercial and consumer perspective. Drivers are looking for cost-effective EVs to drive down their expenditure on gas and maintenance, while dealers are hoping to save money on utilities and operation costs. Although solar has been mostly panned by the auto industry for its scalability issues, the technology has developed to a point where its efficiency and money-saving qualities can no longer be ignored.

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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