Shaun Del Grande isn't half-hearted about selling electric vehicles.
As one of Coda's initial retailers, Del Grande Dealer Group plans to open five showrooms for the EV brand. Shaun Del Grande, company president, says he figures he's in the right market for it. The first store will open in San Jose, in the heart of California's Silicon Valley, followed by four more in the San Francisco area.
The group has Volkswagen, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Kia franchises, which means it's already in the electrified vehicle business with the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and the Nissan Leaf EV.
"We're selling a lot of Leafs; we're selling a lot of Volts," Del Grande says. "We're in a strong market here in the Silicon Valley. It's very tech-savvy. It's very green, [high occupancy vehicle] lane, early adopter."
Del Grande says he plans to follow the initial store with showrooms in Palo Alto, the San Francisco-Marin County area, the East Bay and Sacramento. He is closing a deal on a vacant store from another brand and expects to open the initial Coda dealership in the coming weeks. It will have a four-car showroom and a total of about 15,000 square feet.
With greater San Francisco to himself, Del Grande anticipates healthy sales of the Coda Sedan: "We really anticipate that we can sell 50 to 100 a month in the relatively near term. We can't get those kinds of volumes for Leaf and Volt."
Coda will open an experience center in a mall in the area. Coda will use the company-owned store to answer customer questions and schedule test drives at dealerships. Del Grande visited the Los Angeles experience center and was impressed with the low-pressure environment.
He says he was also drawn to the brand by the management team assembled by CEO Phil Murtaugh, the company's ability to raise private equity funding, the Sedan's 150-mile range and the fact that it qualifies for the all-important HOV-lane sticker for California's crowded freeways.
Beyond that, Del Grande's goal is to be the top source for electrified vehicles in the San Francisco-Silicon Valley area: "The thought was: If we believe in this, why don't we become the leading dealer group in this space?"