Penske Automotive takes wait-and-see approach on more stores with Fisker
Penske is evaluating retail demand for the Fisker Karma and other planned models before moving to open more dealerships with the plug-in hybrid maker.
Luxury plug-in hybrid maker Fisker Automotive Inc. has opened a new dealership with Penske Automotive Group in Scottsdale, Ariz., but consumers will dictate whether the companies open more stores together.
Tony Pordon, Penske executive vice president of investor relations and corporate development, said the company is taking a wait-and-see approach with the dealership, which sold its first Karma on Monday.
Penske will evaluate public acceptance of Fisker products and use that evaluation to decide whether to open more dealerships with Fisker, he said.
"It's a new dealership point in the marketplace. There is nothing more to it," Pordon said. "We're starting with one and we'll see how it goes. That brand wasn't represented."
Fisker has 80 retail outlets globally, including 48 in North America. John Schlitt, general manager of Fisker of Scottsdale, said the location has been open for business since late May.
Matthew Malfitano, Fisker's director of global market operations, wrote in an e-mail that the company sees Arizona as a growth market.
"Arizonans are very aware of how we need to protect the environment. It's a perfect market for Fisker's high style, eco-friendly cars," Malfitano said. "It's difficult to say exactly what volumes will be at this point, but we expect to be very happy there."
Penske Automotive ranks No. 2 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States with retail sales of 154,829 new vehicles in 2011.
Fisker makes the Karma plug-in hybrid, which travels about 50 miles on lithium ion battery power before a gasoline engine extends the driving range. The car has had battery problems -- including a shutdown during testing by Consumer Reports magazine. Fisker said last month it has sold 1,000 Karmas, which cost $103,000, including shipping, before a $7,500 federal tax credit.
Schlitt said the dealership has only three units to sell, but two more will be delivered in the coming days.
A grand opening is planned for next month.
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