Fleet News

Fleet services: waterless washing

At a glance

  • Increasingly, organisations are demanding that no chemicals hit the ground on their sites, for environmental reasons.
  • Autosheen’s waterless valeting solution cleans cars without affecting the environment.
  • The price is the same as a regular valet.

    You’ve no doubt got drivers on your fleet who religiously keep their cars in pristine condition, every Sunday lavishing soap-sudded love and attention on them.

    If only all your drivers were like that. Ironically though, the driver who washes his car once every six months is actually being kinder to the environment.

    Chemical cleaners seeping into the soil, hosepipes using up precious water reserves – the millions of drivers scrubbing away are taking an environmental toll.

    But you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t: dirt does damage. Road grime eats into the paintwork and can end up battering residual values.

    Various companies offer valeting services and will visit your fleet HQ to return your cars to their shiny best.

    But with increasing focus on the environment, some fleets are finding traditional valeting services won’t cut it.

    These chemical cleaners are not good for anyone wanting to make a statement about their green credentials.

    And some fleets, especially in the public sector, are being banned from using such detergents at their sites.

    This kind of restriction has proved a particular headache for large organisations.

    One of Inchcape Fleet Solutions’ major clients announced that it would like mobile valeting at its 230 sites around the UK. But, as Inchcape head of supplier networks Nigel Johnson, explains, things turned out not to be as straightforward as they first seemed.

    “Our customer uses pool vehicles,’ Mr Johnson explains.

    “Without a specific owner or allocated driver, it was difficult for them to manage the cleanliness of the vehicles.

    “They were taking them off-site to be cleaned or just not getting them done at all.

    “It soon became clear that they needed more than just a valeting solution, they needed an environmentally-friendly solution.

    “At some of our customer’s locations, there were environmental implications in allowing chemicals to hit the drainage systems.”

    Such demands presented problems for valeting – how do you wash a car without water hitting the surface?

    Inchcape turned to the firm that conducted its mobile valeting, Autosheen. With several other large customers on its books, Autosheen had previously encountered demands for green valeting and had come up with a full valet that uses no water at all. Instead, via a mixture of specially concocted polishes, the grime is simply wiped from the paintwork and wheels without anything hitting the ground.

    Mr Johnson says the waterless solution has proved popular and it costs the same as Autosheen’s standard valet. “Our customer was delighted,” he says.

    “It’s saved it a lot of hassle and made the practicality of managing the pool fleet easier.

    “It’s also turned out exceptionally well from our perspective.

    “The convenience of the on-site waterless valet has proved valuable in the management of the cleaning process. I expect it to be something that more and more clients will be interested in, especially as it’s not cost-punitive.”

    A green clean: Autosheen

    To show how waterless valeting works, Autosheen came to the Fleet News offices and demonstrated the technique on our hybrid Lexus GS450h.

    There was a thin film of road grime and a number of dead flies on the front. The wheels were dulled by brake dust and it looked as if it could do with a good scrub. But that wasn’t allowed – we wanted a clean car and dry ground beneath.

    Valeter Neil arrived in a van packed with assorted cloths and potions and had a look. He applied Autosheen’s waterless valeting solution to the bodywork in the same way that you might apply polish or wax. I was concerned that this would drag grit across the paintwork, but the type of cloth used prevented this.

    For the squashed flies, Neil applied a tar and glue remover and then removed it with a chamois.

    The solution dries like polish and it buffed off, leaving the paintwork and alloys impressively shiny. Stubborn dirt is given an extra application.

    Although it takes longer than a standard valet, the results of the waterless option are very good. And not a drop of chemical was left on the ground when, after a couple of hours, Neil had finished.

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