In the 22 years since I entered the auto retail business doing acquisitions for AutoNation, sellers have weathered perceived threats from the Web, public dealer groups and the Nice Recession. It’s in opposition to that backdrop that Lithia Motors Inc., a 72-12 months-old brick-and-mortar dealership chain with $10 billion in sales last year, came to accomplice with Shift, a 5-year-outdated automotive-procuring startup out of San Francisco.
Let’s think how much value sellers can create if they replicate the strengths of Carvana — an enormous selection of vehicles and a customer-friendly gross sales process — with the benefit of convenience and the profitable parts and repair business.
Another bonus for Lithia: Shift sells solely used vehicles, an area nationwide chains are flocking to. Margins on new vehicle gross sales are getting thinner as car producers demand extra investments and impose gross sales goal incentives that may eat into earnings, said David Whiston, an analyst with Morningstar Inc.
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