Halfway Ford, of Kuils River, in the Western Cape is virtually off the grid in terms of electricity supply and uses a minimal amount of water from the municipal supply, which is particularly important in this water-scarce region of the country.
"This praiseworthy environmental initiative by George Baikie's Halfway Group is fully endorsed by the Ford Motor Company Southern Africa," said Casper Kruger, the company's Managing Director. "Ford is a global leader in terms of environmental innovation and implementation. We are therefore very proud of this project in Kuils River, which is serving as a shining example of a motor dealer taking responsibility for its impact on the environment while showing the local community that Halfway Ford is a local business that cares."
Halfway Ford Kuilsriver decision to go solar for its electricity requirements and to recycle and harvest water was influenced by a long-term goal of the Halfway Group to move towards zero-based emissions by 2050.
Renu Holdings, a Durban-based company specialising in commercial, industrial, and residential renewable energy solutions, was the company selected by the Halfway Group to undertake this pilot project at the Halfway Ford Kuilsriver dealership, situated opposite the new Zevenwacht Mall in Kuils River.
"We wanted a partner who could offer us a turnkey solution covering solar photovoltaic (PV) off-the-grid electricity generation, hot water, LED lighting, water harvesting and recycling requirements across all of our dealerships," explained Halfway Group CEO George Baikie.
"We wanted a single point of contact that would handle the consulting, design, supply, installation and maintenance. Renu's proven record of accomplishment and expertise in all these aspects of environmental technology was a good fit for what we required."
"The project was no small feat. Limited roof space, along with having to lift the solar panels onto the roof using a 35-ton crane and rigging specialists required innovative thinking and a unique set of skills," said Renu's Technical Director, Justin Hughes. "Fortunately, we could call on years of experience in overcoming similar hurdles when retrofitting solar systems on such a large scale."
Halfway Ford Kuilsriver not only boasts an array of solar panels and control systems that supply all their electricity needs, but also a water harvesting system that allows them to collect rainwater as well as recycling water used in the car wash. Heat pumps are used to heat water and there is highly efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting throughout the building.
These systems are contributing to impressive monthly savings on overheads amounting to 16 000kWh in electricity costs and 27 500 litres of water. There is an added benefit when the grid-tied solar PV panel system produces more power than Halfway Ford requires as this excess electricity is then sold back to the municipality.
"Although I have only been dealer principal of Halfway Ford since April 2017, I am very proud of this young dealership's performance, not only regarding our environmental initiatives, but also in terms of setting and breaking sales records," explained Dealer Principal Etienne Pienaar, who has been involved with the Ford Motor Company Southern Africa and Ford Credit for more than 11 years. "We are an involved and committed member of the Kuils River community, with most of our employees living in the area.
"Our workshop is equipped with the latest technology equipment and trained staff, while we now offer a quick-lane service facility to suit customers who are prepared to wait while their vehicle is being serviced. Another popular feature of our dealership is the Halfway Coffee Shop, which offers customers the opportunity to buy a breakfast or lunch when delivering or collecting their vehicles.
"Halfway Ford Kuilsriver, as a member of the Halfway family, strives to provide our customers with the best experience possible," concluded Pienaar.