When Stage 3 water restrictions were implemented on July 20, washing of vehicles was one of the activities that went from restricted to prohibited, unless it’s done at a commercial car wash. Under Stage 3 rules, only windows, lights, and license plates can be washed, in the interests of safety. For some, any excuse not to wash the car is a good thing. For car dealers it’s not quite that simple.
For dealerships, the unfortunate outcome of the washing ban can be a lot full of dusty vehicles. Not great when you’re used to offering customers a clean, shiny test drive. Nonetheless, the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. has shown its support and commitment to water conservation efforts by communicating the washing ban to its members and offering alternatives to consider.
Car Dealers Embrace Conservation Efforts
Despite the drawbacks presented by Stage 3 restrictions, Association President and CEO Blair Qualey says his members are supportive of water conservation efforts.
“Car dealers tend to be pretty good community supporters,” notes Qualey. “It’s part of their DNA and with the current water situation they want to do their part.”
The car dealers face two main challenges with the Stage 3 restrictions in place. One is keeping the cars on their lot clean. An even bigger challenge is getting newly arrived cars ready for display after transport to the dealership, because of the dust and dirt that accumulated during shipping. One of the approaches the Association is recommending is the use of commercial car wash facilities (allowed to operate under Stage 3 conditions). According to the Canadian Carwash Association, washing your car at home can use as much as 450 litres (120 gallons) of water. Commercial car washes by comparison, use (on average) a third of the water your average car owner would consume washing a car at home.
Waterless Options Also Recommended
In the message to his members, Qualey also encourages them to investigate waterless options, especially if they have concerns about a commercial washing facility affecting the finish of a brand new car. The Association uses waterless options to keep vehicles clean during the annual Vancouver International Auto Show and is currently using a waterless product for their own vehicles this summer. As Qualey notes, as president of the organization he feels it’s important for him to lead the way by example, showing how water restrictions doesn’t have to mean a dirty car.
Supporting Education Efforts
The New Car Dealers Association has also embarked on an education initiative, using materials supplied by Metro Vancouver. Posters, information sheets, and waterwise conservation tips translated into 4 languages are some of the tactics they are using.
There’s no doubt that water restrictions present significant challenges to businesses in Metro Vancouver. Especially because we are used to the luxury of abundance when it comes to our water supply. As Qualey observes, customers expect their new car to be clean when they drive it off the lot. But, despite these challenges, Qualey says his Association members are telling him they want to do whatever they can.
Setting an Example for Business Community
When business and industry join with local government to encourage compliance and provide solutions, it sends a strong, positive message about the value of water conservation. So, if you’re shopping for a new vehicle this summer and find the vehicles on the lot to be a dusty bunch, remember, that’s just a sign that the dealer is doing their part during our very dry summer.
Want to join the New Car Dealers Association of BC in working to be part of the solution? The information linked below is intended to support your conversations about low rainfall and snow, drought, and our reservoir levels:
- Declaration of Activation of Stage 3 of the Water Shortage Response Plan – July 20, 2015
- Media Release – Metro Vancouver Ramps Up Water Restriction To Stage Three
- Water Shortage Response Plan – full version and abbreviated version
- Protecting your watersheds, including a video on fire suppression
- Current reservoir levels