AutoNation, the largest auto retailer in the U.S., has received the approval from Acura, Infiniti and Volvo to put its brand name on their dealerships.
However, German luxury car manufacturers are reluctant about about retailer branding, and this may prevent AutoNation’s branding strategy from spreading to the rest of its network and throughout the industry.
On January 31, AutoNation announced that it will rename its 160 domestic and mass-market import-brand stores. AutoNation has received so far the OK of three luxury brands: Acura, Volvo and Infiniti. Those brands account for 11 more stores, two of which already have adopted the AutoNation moniker. The rest of the stores will be renamed by early June.
AutoNation has not formally asked other luxury brands, including its largest, Mercedes-Benz. AutoNation has 17 Mercedes-Benz stores.
According to Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, the carmaker is reluctant about retailer brand names on its stores. The German automaker pushes retailers to use the vehicle brand and geographic location in store names: Mercedes-Benz of Fort Lauderdale, for example.
“I certainly understand AutoNation wants to have their brand and build their brand. That is their company, and they are responsible to their constituents and their shareholders. For us, it is the Mercedes-Benz brand that is the most important thing, and that is what we will continue to highlight in our public face,” Cannon told Automotive News.
AutoNation executives declined to comment, but confirmed the Volvo, Acura and Infiniti approvals in a brief statement.