Published: May 09, 2024
Published: May 09, 2024

Thomas Leuchten: Sustainability as a Body Shop Concept

Thomas Leuchten began his career as a professional painter in an automotive body shop in Germany some 40 years ago when sustainability was simply an overlooked word in the dictionary. As our sales and business development manager for Automotive Refinish in the EMEA North region, he’s now turning the word into action for body shops through our SUSTAINABILITY CO2NCEPT™ system.

Primed for Sustainability

Thomas has spent his entire career in the refinish industry. After some years as a paint technician, he became manager of a large body shop. He went from using our products to helping develop and sell them when he joined our Automotive Refinish business in 1993.

In the three decades since, Thomas has held various roles in technical and product management and business and service development. He’s currently responsible for strategic business development, the expansion of partnerships with key accounts and influencers, and sales concepts for market trends and innovation.

Having worked for more than 40 years in the refinish industry, I’m always looking for how we can do better for our customers and how our customers can improve their own operations. I help drive our efforts to better understand where and how our products can bring greater value, and I also help customers find better ways to be more efficient yet more sustainable at the same time.

Thomas and his colleagues were on the leading edge of recognizing that sustainability needed to be a growing focus in the refinish industry, with insurers, fleet owners and other influencers starting to look for body shops that could offer more sustainable repairs. At the same time, rising costs – especially energy costs in Europe – were putting pressure on bottom lines. These two emerging issues meant body shops had to transition to the next generation, and quickly.

Environmental Benefits and Financial Gains

Thomas and team were poised to help, creating a program to help drive sustainable advantages for body shop customers in Germany. Success with that early initiative led to the 2023 introduction of our more robust Sustainability CO₂NCEPT system in EMEA and North America. This suite of products, processes, digital tools and consulting services helps body shops reduce energy, waste and carbon emissions throughout the automotive repair process.


Sustainability CO₂NCEPT components include:

  • Products: Our air-drying primers and clearcoats can reduce energy consumption by up to 65% compared to traditional oven-cured coatings, while other air-drying primers applied via rollers rather than in a spray booth can deliver a 95% reduction in energy. Less energy used equals less carbon emitted.

  • Processes: Our team pinpoints a body shop’s processes and tasks with the highest energy consumption and identifies alternatives to reduce both energy use and carbon emissions.

  • Digital tools: PPG LINQ™ end-to-end digital ecosystem can help body shops achieve up to a 15% productivity improvement compared to traditional repair methods, while PPG MOONWALK® automated paint mixing system can reduce the carbon footprint from basecoat emissions by up to 9%.

  • Services: Our Energy and Emission Calculator measures the environmental impact of body shop products and processes, calculating the potential energy and carbon dioxide savings that can be made with more sustainable repair processes. We also offer training that can help body shops minimize energy consumption and carbon emissions.

“We work with our customers to implement the entire Sustainability CO₂NCEPT suite, but we also can focus on a specific element. Not only will body shops see environmental improvements, they also can achieve financial gains through lower energy costs and increased efficiency. Those businesses that prepare now for sustainability will be those that remain competitive and profitable.”

In Spain, customer Reparaciones Integrales de Carrocería (RIC) Madrid was an early Sustainability CO₂NCEPT adopter. The body shop installed our MoonWalk system, achieving a 14% reduction in paint consumption and related decrease in carbon emissions. The business also began using our one-coat, air-dry varnish, further reducing energy use and increasing efficiency. These and other process changes, such as more energy-efficient painting booths, led RIC Madrid to obtain sustainability certifications from both Cesvimap and Centro Zaragoza.


Ever-evolving Sustainability Journey

These results are not a surprise to Jordi Orriols, technical marketing support and training director in the EMEA region and global leader of our Sustainability CO₂NCEPT program.

It’s very clear that there are tangible, measurable impacts when all or part of the concept is implemented. Our very structured, data-driven, hands-on approach validates the savings and possibilities, setting our concept apart from others in the marketplace.

As the concept continues to roll out across the globe, Thomas and Jordi are already focused on what’s next.

“This is a journey, as the full concept will never be finished. We’ll always be developing new products, tools and ideas to better support the environmental sustainability of our body shop customers.” Thomas

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