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I spotted this on auto.com . It looks like a great way to market cars, and I'm curious how Volvo will fit in.<P>I spotted this on auto.com . I wonder what the Volvo dealerships will be like?<P>Ford has upscale vision for luxury dealerships <P>February 6, 2001<P>BY MICHAEL ELLIS<BR>REUTERS<P>LAS VEGAS -- Is this the end of the giant inflatable gorillas and strings of balloons outside of at least some car dealerships?<P><BR>Ford Motor Co. sees a day when its high-end brands Lincoln, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin will be sold at dealerships that resemble upscale retailers such as Tiffany and Gucci.<P><BR>Most dealerships now look like a "parking lot with a roof on top," Wolfgang Reitzle, who oversees Ford's five luxury brands, said at the Los Angeles auto show last month.<P><BR>"No wonder so many people don't want to go to a car dealership in this country. Even the super luxury brands have simple, uninspiring dealerships."<P><BR>Ford plans to group its five luxury brands together in shopping mall-like dealerships that will immerse customers in the distinct identity of each brand -- such as Jaguar's racing heritage and Land Rover's go-anywhere capability.<P><BR>By sharing back-office operations, the brands will be able to cut costs and offer additional amenities, such as on- and off-road driving courses, cafes and vehicle customization services, officials said.<P><BR>The first dealership to offer Ford's vision will break ground soon on 40 acres of land in north Scottsdale, Ariz., under the ownership of the publicly-traded United Auto Group Inc.<P><BR>"If you think of an upscale mall, where you see a Tiffany, a Saks and a Brooks Brothers, as you go through each door of a retailer, you have a different experience," Hartz said.<P><BR>Grouping the brands together will allow Ford to offer consumers a wide range of vehicles, without changing the focus of each individual brand, officials said. For example, Land Rover's upscale sport utility vehicles will be in a store next to Jaguar's curvaceous coupes and sedans.<P><BR>The luxury superstores are part of Ford's efforts to transform the car-buying experience at its dealerships. Despite the hype of selling vehicles over the Internet, about 99 percent of car buyers still visit a dealership when they buy a new car or truck, according to CNW Marketing/Research.<P><BR>"You can't experience kicking tires on the Internet," said Saad Chehab, who manages dealership design and construction for Ford.<P><BR>Ford has also designed a new look for its Lincoln dealerships that is intended to convey a more consistent image that will boost its identity in an increasingly competitive marketplace, Chehab said.<P><BR>About 10 of Lincoln's 2,400 dealerships are already undergoing the face-lift, Chehab said. Another 300 are considering the new look, and Lincoln also plans to open its first two dealerships in Britain. About 800 of the Lincoln dealerships sell only the Lincoln brand.<P><BR>At a cost averaging about $500,000 to $600,000 for most dealerships, the new Lincoln look includes 30-foot sandstone arches framing a granite entryway. Inside, many of the dealerships will have a retail boutique offering upscale accessories such as clothing, watches and keychains that will add an elegant image for the Lincoln brand.<P><BR>"We don't have a consistent image. All of these successful retailers out there, they have a consistent image," Chehab said.<BR>
 
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