Toyota plans to 'green up' its European dealer network.

According to Automotive News Europe (ANE), Toyota will ask all European dealers to conduct an environmental audit and improve their environmental performance.  A new environmental certification scheme is expected to be announced at the Toyota dealer convention in Europe.

Toyota Motor Europe CEO Tadashi Arashima told the newspaper that it wants dealers to be climate-neutral.

Dave Cussel, general manager of market development for Toyota Europe, said that around 40-50 new dealers would be added to the programme each year. The focus would be on applying environmental standards to existing and new buildings. Around 30-40 premises are renovated each year anyway.

Toyota has been working with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in England to create a rating system for its European dealers.

The automaker has two pilot green dealerships in Malmo, Sweden, and La Rochelle, France. The French facility will make extensive use of solar panels, and the majority of the electricity produced there will be sold, generating an income for the site. In Sweden, Toyota has added a green roof, to help manage rainwater, and to help cool the building in summer. (Ford has a similar roof at its new Rouge plant in Detroit.)

Environmental improvements increase refurbishment costs by around 17% but are expected to result in lower operating costs of around 8%, according to Toyota. At night just four models will be lit using low-energy lighting while the rest of the showroom will be screened off with a curtain.

Toyota already runs a green dealership programme in Japan in partnership with the national dealers association. It has a more limited programme in the US, Canada and Mexico, where it supplies a web tool called Environmental Assistance Network (EAN) to supply information on best environmental practices and legal compliance. It has also helped some dealers build more energy-efficient buildings.

There is a huge opportunity for vehicle manufacturers to support dealers to go green. As noted by ANE, the United Nations Environment Programme has identified that a fifth of current energy consumption could be saved within just a few years by applying more ambitious environmental standards to existing and new buildings.

Of the major vehicle manufacturers, only Toyota and Honda have started doing any major work in this area.