AutoNation Inc. isn't completely out of the used-car superstore business - yet.
Eight AutoNation USA stores remain open as AutoNation negotiates a solution with the stores' owners, all former Driver's Mart franchisees, during the next few weeks.
The eight stores are the only ones of the 37-store chain that are owned and operated by franchisees. AutoNation owns the other 29 superstores. The company closed 23 of those last week and will convert the remaining six into new-car dealerships.
AutoNation will sell the inventory from the shuttered stores at auto auctions.
AutoNation added seven of the former Driver's Mart stores in 1998 when it bought the Driver's Mart franchise company for $40 million. The seven are in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. The eighth opened in September of this year in Cleveland.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said the company has no interest in adding more franchised stores.
'We are out of the used-car superstore business, period,' he said.
Lee Seidman, an independent dealer who owns the Cleveland AutoNation, expects to stay open.
Seidman said he is not surprised by AutoNation's exit. The superstores were too big, some occupying 20 acres, with too much overhead, Seidman said. The former Driver's Mart stores, on the other hand, are smaller and easier to manage, he said.
Said Seidman: 'We are not impacted by this. We're fine.'