The greening of the automotive industry is not just about building zero-emission vehicles; it’s also about reducing the carbon impact of the dealerships that sell and service them.
The owners of BMW Laval and Mini Laval near Montreal have been quietly introducing sustainable practices for years. In 2016, for example, previous owner Carmine D’Argenio, who has sold majority ownership but retains the role of president, put a honeybee apiary on the roof. But the dealership has never tried to promote its green efforts to attract customers, said General Manager Massimo D’Argenio, Carmine’s son.
“It’s more hidden behind the scenes. In large part, that’s what we stand for. That’s what we do.”
A new award is providing the chance to tell the full story. BMW Laval has been named BMW Group Canada’s first-ever winner in the sustainability category. The car company’s retail network in Canada consists of 50 BMW and 31 Mini dealerships.
The award was one of 16 presented to BMW and Mini dealerships March 6 during BMW Group Canada’s 2022 Retailer of the Year awards.
“BMW is highly engaged in the green economy,” D’Argenio said.
GREEN ‘AT THE CORE’
The dealership, founded in 1973 by Massimo’s grandfather, Gerardo D’Argenio, has been majority-owned by Edmontonbased AutoCanada Inc. since 2014. Massimo D’Argenio said it is still run like a family business and retains its long-standing environmental focus.
The dealership’s green values align with those of BMW, said Andrew Scott, director of national sales at BMW Group Canada.
“We do more than build electric vehicles; we source the materials, produce the vehicles and recycle them with sustainability at the core of each process.
“We developed an award that focuses on sustainability because the topic is at the foundation of our business on a global level and is important for us to reinforce locally,” he said.
To evaluate sustainability nominees, BMW assessed physical practices and initiatives undertaken by a dealership and looked for “an engaged workforce and a culture and environment that promoted the creation of a wider green economy.”
About 20 per cent of Canada’s BMW and Mini dealerships entered the sustainability competition.
The honour recognizes a long list of “little things” that touch on virtually every aspect of a dealership’s operation. Physical upgrades at the Laval store included converting to LED lighting in the showroom, along with adding high-speed overhead doors in the service drivethrough and workshop areas in 2018-19.
The dealership stated in its submission for the award that natural gas consumption for the year 2021 was half the amount consumed in 2018.
• The addition of a smart-building control system enabled the BMW and Mini stores to better manage heating and cooling systems, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions and improving comfort.
• The dealership has installed 16 electric-vehicle chargers, including three Level 3 DC fast chargers. Since the first charger was installed in 2017, the dealership said, it has delivered more than 34,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity to EVs, the equivalent electricity use of 3,855 litres of gasoline.
• A recently installed cardboard compactor reduced the need for waste pickups to once a month from 20.
• Single-use plastics in the bistro have been eliminated.
• To reduce paper and plastic wrapping and reduce food waste, sandwiches are made to order instead of being pre-made and wrapped.
• For exterior maintenance, leaf blowers are electric.
• Four trees have been planted — including a Kentucky coffee tree, identified as a species under threat in Canada — to enhance biodiversity.
A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Laval BMW and Laval Mini are never done with their greening efforts, said D’Argenio. A sustainability committee meets quarterly to discuss progress and generate new ideas.
BMW values such local leadership, said Scott of BMW Group Canada.
“We look forward to seeing BMW Laval resubmit with new initiatives in 2023 and hope their efforts inspire other retailers across the country.”
BMW Laval and Mini Laval sold 1,500 new vehicles and 1,200 used in 2022. Fifteen per cent of the new vehicles sold this year to date are EVs, D’Argenio said. Quebec offers EV purchase incentives of up to $7,000.
The stores have 170 employees in their retail, service and collision facilities.