With signs of improvement for auto sales, some of the industry's biggest retailers are ready to invest again.
AutoNation Inc., Group 1 Automotive Inc. and Asbury Automotive Group Inc. all say they will increase capital expenditures in 2010. In AutoNation's case, COO Michael Maroone is eyeing a record investment amount: $150 million, double 2009 spending.
The money will be spent on facilities, technology and training for the nation's largest dealership group.
"We're optimistic about the business," Maroone said. "We like the environment. It's a key year for us."
AutoNation's previous annual spending peak had been shy of $130 million, he said.
Asbury CEO Charles Oglesby told Automotive News that his group plans to spend about $25 million this year, up from close to $10 million in 2009.
"We're building a new Mercedes dealership in Tampa, and we will spend a little more money in some of our other dealerships that need a little bit of face-lifting," Oglesby said.
In total, Asbury plans to upgrade six to eight dealerships in 2010, he said. The company also will invest in information technology, including the completion of a common dealer management system for its stores.
More store projects are on tap for 2011. Asbury is likely to spend $30 million to $35 million next year, Oglesby said. About a half-dozen new dealerships are planned during the next few years.
Group 1 CFO John Rickel said his group spent $21.6 million on capital investments in 2009. In 2010, he anticipates spending will rise to less than $40 million.