The automobile dealership is a unique and diverse environment and covers a large variety of lighting and electrical environments.
Starting on the exterior of the facility the nighttime illumination of the lot is critical to the sale of their product - automobiles. This exterior retail environment demands high light levels and excellent uniformity to present their product in the best light possible. There are three distinct exterior lighting environments. There is the front row or display area which is visible to passing traffic. This is the highest level of illumination on the lot. The intent of the illumination is to entice the consumer into the sales area. The sales lot is larger and is where the bulk of their available for sale automobiles are displayed. The illumination level is lower than at the front row, but still high with excellent uniformity. The illumination must provide light to see the detail on both the exterior and interior on the vehicles. Lastly, the storage lot requires the least illumination.
Interior Lighting – Sales and Service Areas
Once inside the automobile dealership there are two main areas – sales and service. The sales area is similar to other retail environment with accent lighting on product and displays. The main difference is the size of the product being displayed. Good visibility and control of glare are important to a successful showroom environment. Typically there are office areas associated with the sales area which require the same attention to detail as any other corporate office environment.
The service area has many unique lighting requirements, starting with the service reception area where the customer must be received in a pleasant environment where the automobile will be dropped off for service. The illumination must allow the service technician to evaluate the vehicle and make the customer comfortable. After the automobile is in the service garage the lighting changes to suit the functional needs of the mechanic. The lighting in the shop area must be located such that all areas of the vehicle can be seen – under the hood, inside the wheel well, below the car, etc. and the lighting must be effective whether the elevator is at ground level or elevated. If the dealership has a body shop then more special requirements are present in the service garag e such as a paint spray booth and welders.
The Electrical System
The electrical system for an automobile dealership can also be a challenge. The buildings are generally large which can cause voltage drop issues particularly with the use of high power usage equipment such as welders. Welders and high power usage equipment can generate a significant amount of harmonic current and surges on the power system. It is important that electronic components be protected from these harmonics and surges. Electronics are not only in the office area, but in almost every piece of shop equipment used by the mechanics on a daily basis.
Finally, most dealerships are tailoring their designs to be in accordance with the automobile brand’s (GM, Ford, Nissan, etc.) DID or Design Intent Document. The DID specifies the prototypical requirements for all dealerships of that brand. Following this prototype is key to a successful project.
Carlins Consulting has been involved in numerous automobile dealerships and has worked with a number of major brands successfully meeting the requirement of both the automobile dealership and the automobile brand.