Car dealers taking environmental responsibility, future-proofing business through sustainability

Retailers are increasingly viewing sustainability as an important part of business success with almost two thirds considering their impact on the environment, according to new research conducted by Auto Trader.

It found that the majority of retailers (80%) believe environmental impact is important to their business and franchised retailers were more likely to agree with 91% compared to 73% of independent dealers.

Over half (54%) of all car dealers believe environmental responsibility will become more of a business priority in the future although this breaks down to almost three quarters (73%) of franchise retailers and just 46% of independent retailers.

Retailers were also asked if there is enough information available to help them make informed decisions about the sustainability of their business and 75% of retailers agreed that there was. Franchised dealers were more likely to feel well-equipped with 83% of respondents agreeing, compared to 70% of independent retailers.

The top benefits of increased environmental awareness were future-proofing their business with 34% of retailers agreeing with, followed by cost savings on energy with 33% and then improved brand reputation with 30%.

Electric car buyers were also surveyed, and results show a high level of importance placed on how well a retailer can discuss environmental impacts of both their products and their business.

Auto Trader found that for this group, environmental information was an important part of the car buying process. With 88% of electric car buyers stating they would find it useful if the retailer knew more about the environmental impacts of their stock, there’s a clear demand for the automotive industry to be confident and literate in this topic. Research also found that half of electric car buyers would preferentially buy from a retailer who was transparent about their environmental impact. Similarly, half (49%) of electric buyers are more likely to buy from a retailer who is more environmentally responsible.

In an effort to support the automotive industry with sustainability, Auto Trader launched the automotive Carbon Literacy toolkit in partnership with the Carbon Literacy Project at COP26 in November 2021 with a goal to support in-house understanding of the impact of carbon and how this relates to the industry. The toolkit was carefully designed in close collaboration with a number of leading automotive retailers and manufacturers including Lookers, Nissan, Marshall Motor Group, Motorpoint and Available Car. Since launch, the toolkit has trained 2,176 automotive professionals across 144 organisations.

Ian Plummer, commercial director of Auto Trader, commented on the findings: “It’s fantastic to see the importance retailers are placing on understanding and reducing their impact on the environment and this is sure to be a defining feature of retailers of the future. Taking an interest in sustainability often has dual benefits, for example carbon reduction initiatives can result in long-term cost savings which is always a priority for businesses.

“At Auto Trader, our environmental strategy focuses on supporting the industry to become more sustainable through facilitating knowledge sharing and sourcing external experts to provide advice and guidance. Following the success of our “Building a Sustainable Automotive Industry” event series, we’re looking to expand our work in this space further.”

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