Boulder dealership rocks hybrids, EVs
Boulder, Colo.—When Luke Walch’s employer, Tesla, asked him to relocate from Boulder to Lone Tree or California he wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of either. The NorCal transplant instead decided to stay put in Colorado and follow his hunch that there was a market for a used EV and hybrid dealership in Boulder.
Seven years later his idea has come to fruition, and he sells high-quality “green” vehicles and more to satiate the motoring public’s appetite near the Flatirons. Repairing those customers’ vehicles has also become a substantial part of the business model in the last two years.
“The cars we offer naturally appeal to customers who want clean, economical cars with modern features,” he said. This is why he sources vehicles nationwide that fit that have clean records, have ample battery life remaining, and are usually still under original factory warranties.
Even though that leads Walch to spend more than $250,000 in vehicle transportation fees annually, he said at the end of the day it’s worth it in order to sell top-quality vehicles.
Since many of them have expensive NiCad or Lithium Ion batteries, he tries not to purchase them from hot southern areas that prematurely wear them out. Many of them will have batteries with a 12-bar or greater capacity, he said. Anything below that causes the vehicle to significantly experience reduced range.
“Our inventory naturally attracts progressive people,” he said, with vehicle tastes ranging from Nissan and Toyota, to BMW and Porsche. Most vehicles are marketed on Cars.com, Auto Trader, and Edmunds, he said, adding that he also focuses on Google Ad Words.
Symbiotic java relationship
Unique to the dealership is a shared open space with neighboring coffee shop Baby Goat. Customers enter the same front door creating a natural walkway to cars in the showroom.
“I always keep something flashy on the showroom floor to draw people over,” he said. At the time of the Parts & People visit, that vehicle happened to be a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 that came in on trade. It’s not exactly green, Walch said with a chuckle, but serves its purpose.
When customers are waiting for service or processing a purchase, the coffee shop is only a few steps away for a bite to eat.
It was by accident that they ended up conducting their own service and repairs, when the shop they sublet repairs and reconditioning to went out of business.
He moved into his current location planning on sharing the space with that shop, but eventually decided to retain the business in house to maintain quality control.
Service Manager Jason Holtzhouser manages the shop that has evolved from simply performing reconditioning to offering a wide variety of repairs, from timing belt replacements to tires.
Most parts installed are genuine parts purchased from wholesaling dealerships, such as nearby Boulder Toyota. Many OE parts are also installed and purchased through WORLDPAC, O’Reilly, and NAPA, he added. Akebono brakes are often installed in the Japanese makes they service.
Offering tire sales and installation is an important aspect of completely servicing customers, he said, given the mountain driving conditions near Boulder. A “true cost” of mileage spreadsheet with popular Boulderite destinations, such as Eldora ski resort, Moab, and Anchorage display the difference in cost per MPGs, from 30 MPG to 50 MPG.
Two complimentary EV charging stations are also offered in front of the building.
When Walch recalls the month he opened his shop in October of 2011, he associates it with the birth of his first son, Finn, and a broken hand that he suffered during a co-ed softball game in Boulder. He also eventually had a second son, Reed, and many of his employees now call themselves parents as well.
The 12 employees who work at the dealership do so in a casual environment, adorned with local artwork, houseplants in a familial setting, complete with a friendly dog. The showroom floor is devoid of high-pressure salespeople.
An avid baseball fan, Walch also buys a handful of Rockies tickets to give to customers and employees as a way of saying thanks.
Employees’ personalities and quirks are proudly displayed in their bios on the dealership’s website, greeneyedmotors.com. True to the written word, lead technician Cory Holt was turning a wrench to heavy metal while replacing a Subaru cylinder head during the visit.
Walch said that last year he received recognition from the Colorado Independent Auto Dealer Association (CIADA) and also sold the most used vehicles in the Boulder area.
“We’d like to open another location in a year or two. A second location in Denver would make sense.”