Sonic takes EchoPark into Fla., Ga. with acquisition
Sonic Automotive Inc. is taking its used-only EchoPark stores into two new markets: Florida and Georgia.
Sonic bought AutoMatch USA, which has four used-only stores in Georgia and Florida, about eight weeks ago, Jeff Dyke, Sonic’s executive vice president of operations, told Automotive News.
“We’ll convert those to EchoPark stores by the end of 2017,” Dyke said.
Sonic, of Charlotte, N.C., launched EchoPark in the fall of 2014 in Denver. It has five EchoPark stores in Colorado and will open a sixth in Colorado Springs in the first quarter. It will build about two dozen more in Texas and the Carolinas next year.
AutoMatch USA has one store in Savannah, Ga. In Florida, it has one store each in Ocala, Fort Myers and Jacksonville. The stores will continue to operate under the AutoMatch brand until Sonic remodels them to fit EchoPark’s distinctive store design.
Dyke did not disclose terms of the deal.
Sonic eventually wants to have 10 EchoPark stores in each of 50 U.S. markets.
But it will have a new rival. AutoNation Inc. will launch AutoNation USA, its version of a used-only store, in Houston next spring. It will open five stores in 2017. Another 20 stores are in development.
Asbury Automotive Group Inc. also operates used-only stores, under the Q Auto name. The industry giant is CarMax Inc., the nation’s largest used-vehicle retailer.
Dyke said he welcomes AutoNation to the used-only space.
“It’s fantastic,” Dyke said. “They’re late to the party, but I couldn’t be more supportive.”
Dyke said he received “about 100 phone calls from people” asking him his thoughts on AutoNation’s plans after the news hit.
The used-car industry is “huge,” Dyke said, and there’s limited upside on new-car retail, so AutoNation’s leadership recognizes an opportunity. Consumers will benefit from added competition, said Dyke, who is not concerned EchoPark will lose market share.
“EchoPark is years ahead of anything that AutoNation and Asbury have to offer,” he said. “The way you’ll be successful in the used-car business is by having the ability to manage inventory. I think we do that better than anyone in the business.”
Sonic ranks No. 4 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 138,129 new vehicles in 2015. AutoNation, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ranks No. 1, with retail sales of 339,080 new units in 2015. Asbury, of Duluth, Ga., ranks No. 7, with retail sales of 105,981 new units in 2015.
On Automotive News’ list of the top 100 dealership groups based in the U.S. as ranked by used-vehicle sales, however, CarMax ranks No. 1, with retail sales of 582,282 used units in CarMax’s fiscal year that ended Feb. 28, 2015.
AutoNation ranks No. 2, with retail sales of 227,290 used units in 2015; Sonic ranks No. 5, with retail sales of 117,123 used units in 2015; and Asbury ranks No. 7, with retail sales of 82,589 used units in 2015.