Some groups may follow
Several of the country's largest dealership groups have looked at a single brand for their stores. Some are moving in that direction, while others say the strategy isn't right for them. Here's a summary of who's doing what.
Hendrick Automotive Group, ranked No. 6 on the Automotive News list of 125 top dealership groups, is working on it. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company began converting its stores to the Hendrick brand just more than a year ago, spokeswoman Kendra Jacobs said.
The Hendrick name is now on more than 15 of the company's 86 dealerships in 12 states. More dealerships will be converted this year, including stores in the Kansas City market.
Larry H. Miller Group of Cos., No. 10 on the Automotive News list, launched a branding initiative in 2009. It now uses the Larry H. Miller name on 47 of its 48 stores, in seven states. The exception is a Mercedes-Benz store, which has to comply with manufacturer naming requirements that preclude the change.
Executives at Ken Garff Automotive Group, No. 12 on the Automotive News list, have "debated time and time again" whether to use one brand, CEO Brett Hopkins said. Garff of Salt Lake City, Utah, has 18 stores in Utah with the Ken Garff name and 18 stores in other states that kept names used in those markets.
"We've decided to keep those local names on those dealerships in the markets in which we are in," Hopkins said.
Greenway Automotive of Orlando, Fla., No. 13 on the Automotive News list, uses the Greenway name on three of its stores in Orlando. The rest of the company's 26 U.S. stores generally use geographic names such as West Palm Beach Kia.
Greenway's stores are in five states, and it has five dealerships in China.
"It's a great idea for them," Chairman Frank Rodriguez said of AutoNation's plan. "We're not quite large enough to do that."
David Wilson Automotive Group of Orange, Calif., No. 14 on the Automotive News list, names its 15 U.S. dealerships for their location and vehicle brand -- Toyota of Orange, for example.
"We have developed too much name equity and goodwill to change now," owner David Wilson wrote in an e-mail. "AutoNation should recoup their costs in a year. Great move."
Arlena Sawyers and Jamie LaReau contributed to this report