Lithia Motors Inc., in another transaction supporting its aggressive expansion plan, said Tuesday it acquired Canadian dealership group Pfaff Automotive Partners.
The announcement confirms the imminent deal first reported by Automotive Newsin July.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but a Pfaff spokesman said the Canadian group retains an undisclosed equity stake in the operation. The deal closed Monday.
It marks Lithia’s first international acquisition as the second-largest U.S. dealership group also targets a goal of 500 domestic locations. Lithia said the acquisition will bring its expected 2021 annualized revenue from acquisitions to $5.9 billion. The Canadian dealerships are expected to generate more than $1 billion of that for Lithia, headquartered in Medford, Ore. The deal was financed with “existing on-balance sheet capacity,” Lithia said.
Pfaff, headquartered in Toronto, operates 16 dealerships across Canada — 11 of them in the Toronto area, the largest market in the country. It also has stores in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta. Pfaff’s Mercedes-Benz and Harley-Davidson dealerships were not part of the acquisition.
“Canada has been our top target for growth outside of the United States with its similar business practices and a market opportunity of five million new and used cars sold annually,” Lithia CEO Bryan DeBoer said in a statement. “Beyond its size, Pfaff has an excellent management team, and its locations provide an ideal hub for further expansion.”
DeBoer praised Pfaff’s best-price-first approach and captive in-house leasing option, saying Pfaff “perfectly aligns with our technology-enabled online offerings.”
The acquisition of Pfaff makes Lithia the second publicly traded dealership group operating in Canada. AutoCanada, based in Edmonton, Alberta, was the sole public dealership group in the country.
The Pfaff brand will remain, and Chris Pfaff, whose father, Hans, founded the company in 1964, will continue to serve as president and CEO. A Pfaff spokesman said the entire management team will stay on board to run the brand.
The deal also means Lithia will bring its Driveway omnichannel digital retailing platform north of the border.
DeBoer previously said that early learnings from Driveway, rolled out one year ago, demonstrate the potential for the platform to dominate both “domestically and internationally.”
Omnichannel refers to technology and processes aimed at providing a seamless buying experience for consumers whether they shop online, in-store or both.
The video from the PDR shows a nearly 20-minute drive that includes a number of hard acceleration incidents that take the car to redline and around 100 mph, and, at about 10:50 into the video we have the race with the Dodge Charger where the top speed (which was 147.6, according to the PDR data) was reached.
Here’s a slightly edited version of the video that was posted to YouTube:
Normally in these sorts of stories, which we’ve certainlyseen before, the aftermath tends to get pretty messy, with the dealership usually going into a full-on denial/no-responsibility defensive posture and making everything difficult.
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Shockingly, that does not seem to be the case here. The dealership, Fremont Chevrolet, took full, unflinching responsibility and arranged to have the customer’s 2021 Corvette replaced with a nice, new, un-hooned 2022 ‘Vette.
“The owner of the family of dealerships reached out to me…and I’m laying in bed and he texts me at nine at night or something, just apologizing profusely and saying he wants to make this right. And then [he offers] me a 2022 [Corvette], and that was pretty shocking. I followed up with [the dealership’s general manager] the next morning and said ‘hey, when can we meet?’”
We configured my 2022 together, [and] he let me push the submit button so my order is in with GM.”
After having seen many of these dealership-employee-hoons-a-customer-car videos, this may be the best and most painless outcome I’ve ever seen. With used car prices and demand still pretty intense, I’m sure the dealer will have no problem moving that 2021 Corvette, so it doesn’t seem like they’d really need to take a complete bath, here.
Plus, this should be well-earned goodwill for the dealership, who learned a valuable lesson, but at least did the right thing.
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