In 2013, a friend of David Baum Jr., the general manager and third-generation auto dealer, wanted to buy a Tesla Model S. The pricey sedan had been on the market for only about a year, but Baum said he would try.
"I went out and bought him a Model S, and I was so impressed with the car," Baum said in an interview. "This car — by far — is the best vehicle I've ever driven myself. And so from there, I said, 'We're going to start stocking these.' "
While the California-based automaker chooses to sell its new EVs directly to consumers, Texas law prohibits company-owned stores. So buying Teslas in the state can be a hassle, said Baum, 35.
"But there's still huge demand for them," he said. "I see them all over the road, all over Dallas. So we're carrying late-model Teslas, 1- to 2-year-old Model S, Model X and the Model 3."
Baum said the average Tesla stays on his lot for only eight days. Supply comes from auctions of off-lease cars and loaner vehicles. "The demand is there, we just can't keep them on the lot," he said. "I think it's a great value for someone not to have to pay advertised price on a new one."
To support the used-vehicle specialty, the store has six Tesla electric charging stations: two in the front for customers, two in the service drive and two in the vehicle-delivery area.
The Baum family's store off I-35 was the first U.S. dealership to complete Mitsubishi's new Dealer Visual Identity Program with all the bells and whistles — at a cost of $13.5 million. Brand dealers and executives have come from all over the world to see the ground-up facility.
But in the current retail market, it needs to do more than invest in the rebirth of the Mitsubishi brand.
Lewisville Autoplex does sell more-commonplace used autos, such as Ford Explorers and Toyota Camrys, but those are only about a quarter of the inventory. Another quarter are exotics or less-common vehicles such as Teslas, and half are customized vehicles such as lifted Jeeps and pickups, Baum said.
"Our average sales price on a used car is now $43,000. In comparison, our new-car average sales price is $25,000," he said. "The margins on our lifted vehicles and custom trucks are a lot better. It definitely keeps us going. At the same time, we're building those trucks in-house, so that's money to the dealership as well. Service, parts and sales all benefit."
The dealership is averaging about 50 new-car sales a month compared with about 110 used vehicles, Baum said. Since inaugurating the new facility in June, used sales have risen from about 90 units per month. And the year has started strong, with used sales up 38 percent year-over-year for the best January in the company's history.