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Tunnel Systems and the Future of the Car Wash Industry

Tunnels are one of the fastest-growing car wash systems being installed in the United States. As a system with quick turnover, there’s a reason why car wash operators are flocking to tunnels. Here are how car wash tunnels are shaping the future of our industry.

As a subsidiary of WashTec AG, we have the advantage of gaining understanding of what’s going on within the industry worldwide. Our company and other WashTec subsidiaries across the world can share information of their local market trends, which we can implement locally or globally as a company. One thing we have noticed is that there is no “one size fits all” solution for any market due to various factors that can affect the market. These factors include cost of business, local regulations, and geographic constraints.

In these other markets, there are also some cultural differences as well. For example, German customers expect a longer wash as they feel like they don’t get their money’s worth versus the desire for a quick wash here in the U.S. so we can continue with our on-the-go lifestyles. In other countries, in-bay automatics are installed outside of a building and instead in a technical cabinet. Customers do not expect a building and owner/operators can save money on their investment while being profitable. While most of the U.S. are not ready for a car wash without a building, there could be future potential in the Southern U.S. due to the warm climate.

While markets must adapt to local expectations and regulations, it is a great idea to view other markets as they could one day make their way here. Some countries, like the Netherlands, have been able to adopt some American trends such as reverse osmosis. For most markets, if they choose to, will need to adapt trends to their local market and restraints.

In the U.S., it is not uncommon to find 160’-180’ long tunnels, despite the majority being 120’-130’ long. In Europe, majority of tunnels are at most 100’ long. Despite the difference sizes, the brush contact duration and drying are still the same. WashTec developed linear movement, where overhead brushes move with the car on the front and the back.

Each tunnel is different and that includes water usage. Most target water usage in the U.S. is 20 gallons per wash while Europe is aiming for 15 gallons, though can use more due to longer wash durations. In the U.S., chemicals are using freshwater while high pressure wash is using reclaimed water. For both markets, reducing water and using reclaimed water on chemical applications is a target.

Not all these trends are applicable in the U.S.; some products take time to develop and adapt to their individual market. With our SoftLine¹® Tunnel, you can be ahead of the curve with our innovations and global presence. Want to learn more about working with Mark VII? Contact us here.