Honda Division Executive Vice President Dick Colliver does not want his cherished brand muddied by any other brands, including that of Republic's AutoNation USA.
And Colliver believes Honda and Republic have an understanding that will keep the brands distinct. 'We have an agreement on how the AutoNation brand would be used, if it is ever used,' he said. 'We both agree we have two brands: the Honda brand and the AutoNation brand. We don't want to confuse the public. The automobile business is not big-box retailing.'
Putting a retail brand on a store such as Wal-Mart, where there are thousands of items for sale, is one thing, Colliver said. Putting a single brand on a car dealership is quite another, he said.
The AutoNation USA name is now used exclusively on Republic's 26 used-car megastores, but Republic officials recently unveiled plans to begin testing it on new-car stores later this year
Colliver also doubts the feasibility of Republic's recently announced plans to train dealership sales personnel to refer customers to other Republic-owned stores.
'I'm an old dealer guy,' he said. 'I know what's going on on the showroom floor. It's going to be very difficult for them to put that kind of culture in a dealership -taking a customer from a Honda store to a Ford store. There's very little cross-shopping between Honda and Ford.'