One design feature that will not change is the layout of the finance and insurance offices. Most dealers said F&I should stay in private offices to protect customer privacy.
But in cramped urban markets, F&I might, along with service and used-car departments, have to move upstairs -- or even downstairs.
Qvale's Fort Lauderdale dealership has to be four stories because it is landlocked. It sits on 1.7 acres and backs up against an apartment building. Most dealerships his size would require 5 acres, he said.
Service and sales are on the main floor, while F&I and the new-car delivery area are on the second floor. New- and used-car inventory are stored on the upper levels.
Similarly, Ourisman Automotive Group will move Ourisman Volkswagen of Bethesda (Md.) into a 7,000-square-foot space in the spring.
The dealership will occupy the ground floor of a residential building in the business district, said Neil Kopit, Ourisman's integrated strategic marketing director. Ourisman has 19 stores and sells 18 brands in Virginia and Maryland.
The store's service department will be 3 miles from the dealership and its used cars stored in a 250-spot underground garage 2 miles away.
The days of walking the lot in search of a car are over, Kopit said. "People are on the Web. They've already identified the car and the deal is done. If someone wants to browse, we get in a car and do a nice little underground tour."