Green Garage may be one of the only garages whose mechanics ride their bicycles to fix your car. Founded by a former car dealer sick of wasteful (and expensive) dealerships incentivized to sell as much as possible to unsuspecting customers, the Denver-based Green Garage says it will save owners money, and the planet some wear and tear.
The approach is simple. Higher efficiency–and more durable materials– cost less in the long run. The slight upfront premiums pay for long-term savings through fewer oil changes, longer lasting components such as filters and a few extra miles per gallon if things work out well. Although car experts warn that it’s hard to make a dent in fuel efficiency through maintenance alone, Green Garage estimates its tune-ups (between $45 and $300) save money over thousands of miles since oil changes are less frequent (down by 70%), tires stay inflated longer (nitrogen refills) and engines burn fuel more efficiently.
If that doesn’t make your wallet feel much fatter, the Garage also tries to minimize the impact of what is inherently a dirty business: It stocks recycled or bio-oils, recovers metal and plastic waste and uses biodegradable products when possible (Styrofoam cups are banned). The Garage will also drive out to locations with four or more cars to do mobile repairs.
The business has apparently thrived. The shop reports it doubled revenue every 60 days in 2011, and is now looking to franchise.
Although successful, the ultimate impact of a green garage is debatable. It’s not clear the economics are a big win for customers, and automobiles’ oversized impacts–from manufacturing to fuel consumption–aren’t going to be made “sustainable,” in a strict sense of the word, anytime soon.
At the end of the day, however, making a dirty business a little less so is something that a lot of people can buy into.