As fuel economy slowly rises across its entire range, Ford is looking to lower the environmental impact of the dealerships that sell its greenest cars as well.

The company announced today a pilot program that will put solar-and-wind clean-energy systems into four of its dealerships.

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Supplied by Wind Energy Corporation, the Windy System apparatus uses a large "wind sail" to harvest energy, along with a 7-kilowatt solar array.

Ford dealers will use energy collected by the system to power buildings, electric-car charging stations, and lot lighting.

The prominent wind sails will also be decorated with the Ford logo and a dealer's name, offering a novel form of advertising.

2015 Ford Focus Electric

2015 Ford Focus Electric

Ford expects each Windy System to generate 20,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year--which it says is enough to power two average-sized homes for a year, or fully recharge the 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack of a Focus Electric 870 times.

Each system is also expected to offset nearly 14 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions per year.

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The four participating dealers are Dana Ford Lincoln in Staten Island, New York; Tom Holzer Ford in Farmington Hills, Michigan; and two California dealers: The Ford Store in Morgan Hill, and Fiesta Ford in Indio.

Program participants were selected from the pool of electric-car certified Ford dealers based on their commitment to alternative-energy use, and the suitability of their locations for wind and solar harvesting.

Installations are expected to begin early next year, and be completed by spring 2015. Dealers will keep the systems permanently.

As cars become greener, more attention is being paid to the infrastructure that produces and sells them.

Ford Fusion Energi charging.

Ford Fusion Energi charging.

Generating electricity onsite can significantly lower facility costs for dealers by cutting or completely eliminating electric bills.

Dealers selling green cars can also get a public-relations benefit by appealing to customers' eco-friendly values--particularly by offering clean energy to charge electric cars.

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Individual dealers have already gone green, but Ford's wind-and-solar pilot program is among the first to be orchestrated by a manufacturer.

With the significant potential economic and environmental benefits of green dealerships, it probably won't be the last.


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