SunPower Corp.'s journey to becoming a leader in residential, commercial and utility-scale solar technology in the United States began in the 1970s when one of the company's co-founders, Dr. Richard Swanson, was pondering ways to make the solar cells used by satellites more cost-effective.
Today, the company is working with over 250 car dealership partners and installed over 1,000 systems last year alone.
"There are a few different benefits for car dealerships, and they're just like anybody in solar," Derek Noble, senior national sales director for SunPower Corp.'s commercial channel told Mega Dealer News during the NADA 2018 Show in Las Vegas. "Your energy bill is the third-highest cost. So you're talking bills that are around $10,000 to $20,000, and we can reduce them by 80 or 90 percent."
The company works with large dealerships such as Johnson & Johnson Auto Plaza, which uses SunPower products in 10 locations; Honda of Honolulu; and Nissan of Boulder, Colorado. SunPower's enterprise channel also works with manufacturers and retail outlets such as Lowe's, Toyota and Ford.
"I think there's a lot of interest from dealers, especially the ones we've spoken to at this show, that they want to go green," Noble said.
SunPower stands by its technology as well, offering a 25-year warranty for its systems. According to Noble, their cells usable lifespan extends beyond that, to a total of 40 years.
"The environment is a continuing concern for everybody and we want to make sure that we are good stewards."
SunPower recently released a case study of how effective their product was for Luther Auto of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, the largest dealership in the Midwest. In the 10 locations using SunPower's solar panels, the average annual savings on electricity per location was over $45,000. Over 25 years, that means savings of over $2.1 million.
"If the cost of electricity is over 6 or 7 cents (per kilowatt), it makes sense to go solar," Noble said. "There are over 17,000 dealerships in the U.S., so there's a great opportunity to go green and to save money with SunPower Systems."