published Friday, May 30th, 2014

Infiniti adds to Chattanooga's luxury offerings

Infiniti of Chattanooga held a grand opening event Thursday. Infiniti of Chattanooga opened its new dealership after it was bought by Sam Furrow two years ago.
Infiniti of Chattanooga held a grand opening event Thursday. Infiniti of Chattanooga opened its new dealership after it was bought by Sam Furrow two years ago.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.
  • photo
    Steve Miller, Infiniti area general manager, speaks with the media before the grand opening event at Infiniti of Chattanooga.
    Photo by Erin O. Smith.
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Infiniti of Chattanooga on Thursday became the last side of the Chattanooga Automotive Square.

Furrow Automotive officially unveiled its new Infiniti dealership, which along with Jaguar, Porsche and Land Rover showrooms make up the company's four luxury offerings at Lee Highway and Bonny Oaks Drive.

Sam Furrow, the company's chairman, said he likes the luxury auto segment.

"I've always been a car nut. I appreciate the finer autos and the qualities represented there," he said. "It's doing very well."

The luxury vehicle market has come out strong from the Great Recession, and some of its brands had among the biggest sales gains in 2013.

Jaguar sales in the U.S. last year rose 41 percent, Porsche was 21 percent higher and Land Rover was up 15 percent nationally over 2012. Infiniti sales were down 2.9 percent last year in the U.S., though the Smyrna, Tenn.-made QX60 crossover posted a 46 percent jump.

Through April of this year, Infiniti has recorded a 14.7 percent increase in sales over the same period last year.

Steve Miller, Infiniti's area general manager, said that 80 percent of the QX60's buyers are new to Infiniti.

"It's really a growing segment," he said, citing the three-row seating the SUV offers. "It has done extremely well."

Furrow Automotive's new Infiniti unit is 18,000 square feet in size on about 3.5 acres. The investment was put at $5 million in the dealership at which Furrow expects to sell 500 new vehicles and 600 used autos annually. Furrow acquired the Infiniti dealership from Tim Kelly in April, 2013.

He said Infiniti is a brand that was "under the radar" for many years as other companies did a better job of promoting their vehicles.

But, Furrow said, Infiniti has high loyalty among its customer base and parent Nissan produces reliable vehicles.

He puts Chattanooga in a group of growing Southern cities such as Charlotte, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala.

"Chattanooga is ... a very good environment in which to business in," said Furrow. "You've got to have product and market. I feel strongly about both."

Sam Liang, Infiniti USA's dealer operations manager, said the new building improves customer service as it includes a larger sales and service team.

"We think our Infiniti brand will be well represented as part of their Chattanooga Auto Square," he said.

George Becknell, the dealership's executive manager, said there's a staff of 25 "who are experienced and committed to deliver the ownership experience one expects from a luxury line like Infiniti."

Furrow Automotive, headquartered in Knoxville, also has Mercedes Benz and Land Rover dealerships in Knoxville.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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