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UK’s first robotic touchless car wash opens in Carlisle

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

The Intelijet360° car wash, on Church Street, requires no staff and no brushes – meaning no real contact with the vehicle is made during its wash. Instead, a robotic arm washes the car in steps using high pressure water jets and chemicals specially designed to remove dirt. Detergents and wax are also used before it is dried off in just four minutes and 30 seconds.

Working with American company PDQ, which is the world’s biggest car wash manufacturer, Intelijet360°, based in East Sussex, has brought the touchless car wash concept to the UK for the first time after significant advancements in technology. Elliott Rich, director of operations, said: “We’re very excited to be bringing this concept to the UK and as it turns out, the very first installation we’ve done just so happens to be in Carlisle and we’re delighted to see it up and running.

“Since Brexit the number of hand car washes has declined in the UK and with friction car washes people are often reluctant to go back as they can create swirls on the paint and damage, hence the opportunity for touchless. “Anyone coming into one of our car washes can have complete confidence that it is a safe wash. We believe this is the way you can get your car washed and not have to go home and spend half an hour properly cleaning your car after a hand or brush wash. “It’s entirely robotic and entirely cashless so the whole customer experience is a very different and professional one.”

The whole site cost only £210,000 to create and the firm said the Carlisle location had proved overall ideal due in part to its previous history of use as a petrol station and car wash.

Drivers entering the futuristic car wash use card to pay at a digital customer terminal. Three levels of individual wash are offered costing £6, £8 or £10 for the plus, supreme or ultimate wash respectively.

No token needed – cars up to the size of a transit van can then enter and follow illuminated signs guiding them through when to drive and stop their vehicle.

During the ultimate wash, the bottom of the car is also cleaned in an under-chassis clean and bug cleaner is applied.

The water used across all three levels of wash is treated and softened in a reverse osmosis system that aims to remove impurities so no residue from water is left behind.

In the next two to three weeks the firm is also planning to introduce subscriptions that cost four times the retail price of the chosen wash, with the most expensive being £40 a month for two washes a week. Those with a subscription are able to drive straight into the car wash, as on site cameras are able to detect the car is on a subscription.

Gift cards and fleet subscriptions are also set to become available, meaning businesses with company cars are able to take advantage of the car wash.

Elliott added: “The big opportunity from our perspective, because we’re actually franchising our business model, is that our car washes can be remotely managed.

“As such you don’t necessarily need to have anyone on site. On larger sites there is the odd occasion where you might have someone staffing it, but these car washes can operate remotely and can be accessed fully online.

“So once the initial investment is made either by ourselves to set up a corporate carwash or by a franchisee, ultimately it is very much a case of managing it remotely, there’s no need to go on site whatsoever.”

The company added that over half of people in the UK still hand wash their car, which they feel leaves significant scope to change the way people perceive car washes.

Elliott added: “From our perspective we believe that as touchless becomes more and more established we will see a significant swing from hand car washing and also from brush washes.

“In terms of it being futuristic, I think it is to the UK public. But I think we have the benefit that technology with regards to touchless has moved forward enormously in the last seven to eight years.

The firm added that eventually it aims to add more services to their forecourts and are planning to open four other sites across the UK. By Lucy Edwards 27/06/2023, | Picture: Stuart Walker Photography


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