Sewell Automotive Companies, part of the Car Pro Show in DFW and Houston, will open four new German-brand car dealerships in Texas over the next two years, including BMW and Audi stores in Grapevine and McKinney.
In one of the biggest expansions in Sewell’s 104-year history, the four franchises will push the Dallas-based company’s holdings to 18 dealerships in Texas. Besides the stores in Grapevine and McKinney, Sewell will open Audi and Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the Houston area.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity and significant growth of our company,” said Carl Sewell, chairman of the company. “They are under development and will open in the spring of 2016.”
German brands are among the most desirable new-car franchises in the auto industry. Before landing the new franchises, Sewell’s only German brand was an Audi dealership in Houston. Sewell’s other luxury or near-luxury brands include Lexus, Maserati, Infiniti and Cadillac — the brand that got the Sewell family started in the dealership business decades ago.
BMW of Grapevine will be next to Sewell Cadillac in the 1000 block of East State Highway 114, Sewell said. Audi of McKinney will be built on an 11-acre site at State Highway 121 and Stacy Road.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area now has four BMW and four Audi dealerships.
About five years ago, Carl Sewell began turning over operations of the company to his daughter, Jacqueline, and son, Carl III, freeing him to pursue new acquisitions.
“With our children in the business and continuing to run operations, I think the manufacturers felt comfortable with us for the long run,” said Sewell, 71, a pioneer in customer service in the auto industry.
Though plans for the dealerships are still being finalized, Sewell said the BMW store in Grapevine would be about 300,000 square feet in size and include a four-story parking garage. He anticipates sales at each of his two new Dallas-area dealerships to average 150 to 200 vehicles a month.
Lee Chapman, president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan New Car Dealers Association, said it is unusual for any dealer to win four new franchises.
“It is a credit to Carl and his kids,” Chapman said. “They have shown the manufacturers that they are more than capable of promoting their brands.”
Luxury vehicles are expected to account for 2 million of the total 16.9 million new-vehicle sales this year in the U.S. and generate 20.6 percent of the industry’s net revenue, according to TrueCar.com.
About half the vehicles sold at a typical luxury dealership go out the door on leases. With interest rates and residual values keeping lease payments relatively low, business should remain brisk, said Jesse Toprak, president of Toprak Consulting Group in Encino.
“It’s the perfect storm for luxury brands,” Toprak said. “As long as those conditions hold, they’ll keep selling more cars.”
Sewell said he worked with the three manufacturers for “quite a while” before landing the franchises.
“We feel very fortunate,” he said. “This is all the growth we need for a little while.”