Economy Honda opens new $20 million dealership in Chattanooga

Economy Honda opens new $20 million dealership in Chattanooga

March 12th, 2019 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Economy Honda's new Lee Highway location is seen on Tuesday. The dealership opened its new dealership this week after relocating from Chapman Road.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

“We know you don't want to pay more than your neighbors. We're making things very seamless.”
Economy Honda GM Alfonso Rivezzo

Alfonso Rivezzo says the Economy Honda dealership in Chattanooga already was one of the top performers in the Eastern United States, and its new store on Lee Highway will sell even more vehicles.

"This dealership is something nice," the general manager said about the state-of-the-art facility that cost more than $20 million to build and opened this week.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Economy Honda's new Lee Highway location has about 70,000 square feet of space and offers about 400 new vehicles and 130 pre-owned cars.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Economy Honda's...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Rivezzo said the dealership at 6001 Lee Highway, a site that for many years held East Brainerd Lumber Co., offers about 400 new vehicles and 130 pre-owned cars.

More transactions will translate into added tax revenues for the city, he said.

"It will bring more money in sales taxes," Rivezzo said, adding that the revamped site helps revitalize that part of Lee Highway.

For many years, Economy Honda operated at an 11-acre leased location at 2135 Chapman Road off Highway 153 owned by Standefer Investment Co., records at the Hamilton County Assessor of Property's office show.

Economy Honda is about 45 years old, according to news archives, and the Chapman Road site was built in 1986. The auto dealership has been owned by Charlotte, N.C.-based Sonic Automotive for about 15 years.

Sonic, one of the nation's largest holders of new-car dealerships with 107 facilities, owns most of its dealership sites.

In the new location, Sonic owns both the building and 12 acres around it on Lee Highway.

Rivezzo said the dealership typically sells between 300 and 350 vehicles a month, though March sales may hit 400 vehicles.

"We upped our staff," the general manager said, noting the dealership employs about 120 people now.

The new dealership building has about 70,000 square feet of space. That's up from some 45,000 square feet at the former location.

All of its service bays are inside, air-conditioned and with new equipment, Rivezzo said.

"The parts department is humongous," he said.

The general manager said the dealership has two inside delivery bays where buyers can check out their vehicles.

An appraisal bay is located inside as well, he said. Economy Honda offers research from its more than 100 dealerships nationally that tells sellers how much their vehicles are worth.

"There's analytics behind it," Rivezzo said. "It's done in a simple manner."

There's a photo booth in the new building where pictures are taken of vehicles so potential buyers can see those on the internet, he said.

"Our pricing is mainly why the dealership is so successful," Rivezzo said.

Officials know people go online first before visiting a dealership, he said. While buyers once visited three or four dealerships, now it's down to about one, Rivezzo said.

"We know you don't want to pay more than your neighbors," he said. "We're making things very seamless."

In addition, the dealership offers what it calls an imagination bar, where computer tablets sit in front of a big screen and buyers can view the store's entire inventory if they don't want to go outside.

Additionally, buyers can see the vehicles at other Sonic dealerships in the city — Nissan of Chattanooga East and BMW of Chattanooga.

"There's lots of different options for the guest," Rivezzo said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.


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