Driving Change with Steele Auto Group

Allison Murray

Published February 19, 2020
in Case Studies

By Allison Murray

Chances are if you’ve ever bought a car in Atlantic Canada, you’ve heard of the Steele Auto Group. With 40 dealerships offering 27 brands, the company is well known across the region. And now as part of their goal to provide value and choice to their customers, and in line with their values of integrity and innovation, Steele is working to take their place as a leader in electric vehicles in Atlantic Canada.

Though EV sales in the region are behind the rest of Canada—in part because of provincial EV rebates elsewhere in Canada—Peter Porteous, Vice-President of Business Development for Steele Auto Group, believes it’s just a matter of time before Atlantic Canada catches up.

“Demand for EVs are on the rise in Atlantic Canada and customers want to be more informed about performance and choice, so we’ve decided to be a leader for EVs in the region,” says Porteous.

A recent report from Clean Energy Canada predicts that nearly half of vehicles sold in Canada in 2030 will be electric. The federal subsidy of up to $5,000 for EVs has certainly helped to drive demand. But at this early stage, consumer education is critical, says Porteous, and Steele is focusing on becoming a resource for customers interested in EVs, offering information and test drive opportunities. They’ve also teamed up with Next Ride, a low carbon transportation initiative from Clean Foundation, and in 2019 were the exclusive auto group at Electric Avenue, Atlantic Canada’s largest EV event.

Steele’s focus on EVs is part of their overall commitment to the community. At the dealership level, they’re also seeing improved environmental management. For example, Colonial Honda was the first in Canada to be awarded Platinum status by Honda Canada for the Honda Green Dealer Award this month.

To achieve this Platinum status, Colonial Honda had to cut their energy use by at least 50% and implement a number of efficiency improvements including installing LED lighting, rainwater collection to wash vehicles, energy efficient HVAC units and two EV charging stations (free for public use).

But, says Tim Peacock, General Manager, these initiatives were underway at Colonial Honda even before the award program was developed.

“It was nice to see the award program come along because it aligned with the initiatives we started in 2016 with our dealership renovations. We didn’t need it to get started,” says Tim. “Every step along the way we looked at what was the environmental impact, what was the energy consumption going to be and what was the right thing to do. Our employees played a big role by coming up with solutions that have made a real difference.”

Porteous feels there is a growing momentum for sustainability in Atlantic Canada. “There’s not enough awareness of all the good things happening, whether that is because of people being humble, or just not getting the word out,” he says. “But I see the changes, and this growing community of companies and organizations taking action, as well as customers looking to us for solutions, is a reason to be optimistic.”