The Return of The Automated Car Wash with Esso and Kärcher!

Published by on . Updated on 17 Nov 2022
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Automated car washes have all but disappeared in the last 15 years, being replaced with hand washes. But Kärcher and Esso have come together to change things up! 

On 26th October, at Esso Lorong Chuan, Kärcher unveiled something that has been non-existent in Singapore since the late 2000’s, and that was their new automated car wash gantry!

Automated car washes used to be a dime a dozen around Singapore in the nineties and mid noughties, with almost every other petrol station having one. It was as straightforward as they came: drive in, ensure your car was sitting properly on the guiding rails, then leave the car in neutral as the machine did its thing, before exiting on the other side to have your car dried off.

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However, these automated car washes were phased out towards the end of the 2000’s, and were replaced with hand washes or closed down altogether. Up until now, with Kärcher and Esso coming together to re-introduce the automated car wash to the Singapore market.

With today’s rising costs and labour shortages, this automated car wash gantry ensures consistent and thorough cleaning while simultaneously allowing for efficient use of manpower. As an added benefit, it also recycles up to 85% of all the water used during each wash. 

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After each wash, wastewater is funnelled through a filtration system that can filter up to 70 microns, or ⅓ the thickness of a strand of human hair. This filtered water is stored in a tank, and can be used to first rinse off a car before the washing process begins.

Depending on the mode selected and detergents installed, different wash programs can be performed as well, such as deep cleaning or polish and clean. During the launch, the quick wash mode was showcased, with several cars heading into the tunnel to try it out. While Kärcher might describe it as just a “quick wash”, the end result was rather thorough, and would more than suffice for most car owners. 

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With prices starting at $11, the wash process takes no more than five minutes, and only requires one staff member to guide the vehicle into the proper position. Once in position, an array of sensors and foam polyethylene brushes contour to the vehicle’s shape, and the washing commences. Once done, air jets simultaneously evacuate any remaining water and dry off the vehicle. 

Should the sensors detect a roof rack, the system will deactivate the top brush and compensate by increasing the intensity of the overhead water jets. The gantry is also able to accommodate vans and large SUVs, so taller vehicles can still be washed as long as they don’t exceed the prescribed height limit.

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Mr. Vincent Sim, Managing Director of Kärcher Singapore, explained how the automated car wash reduces physical exertion on employees and allows them to be happier, more motivated and better able to focus on value-added services like vacuuming and tyre shine. He also showed the ease of training to operate the system, and how the entire process can be controlled via a single panel.

For now, the automated car wash is only available at Esso Lorong Chuan and a private operator at 186 Woodlands Industrial Park E5, #01-03. Two more Esso stations at Toa Payoh Lorong 2 and Bedok North will receive the Kärcher automated car wash gantry by the end of 2022, with 10 more Esso stations slated to be fitted with the system in 2023. 

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