Carl Sewell Places Bet on Texas Market With Huge New BMW Dealership in Grapevine

Carl Sewell is confident that he knows the Dallas-Fort Worth car buying market.The 74-year-old just opened a 280,000-square-foot BMW dealership in Grapevine -- his first with the German luxury vehicle maker and its largest in the state -- and he plans to add an Audi dealership this November in McKinney. If that timeline holds, the Audi McKinney store would be Sewell’s fourth new dealership in a year’s time. He opened an Audi location last November in Houston's Sugar Land and a Mercedes-Benz dealership in December in West Houston near Katy, adding to his portfolio of what is now 16 Texas dealerships.Sewell’s bets come at a time when car sales are tapering off, following a strong climb back from the deep trough created by the 2008 recession. New car sales in the U.S. were reaching 17 million a year, then dropped to about 10 million during the financial crisis. Analysts expect new vehicle sales to total 17.1 million this year, down slightly from record-breaking years in 2015 and 2016. Sales soared to 17.46 million in 2016."2017 was always going to be a challenging year under any circumstance," said National Automobile Dealers Association chairman Mark Scarpelli, who co-owns two dealerships in Illinois. "Overall, consumer demand for new vehicles is still very strong."That goes against the "doom and gloom" of Wall Street reports, which NADA chief economist Steven Szakaly said are "far, far overblown." He predicted sales would reach 16.8 million next year and continue along that trend until 2020.Morgan Stanley revised its expectations for 2018 vehicle sales to 16.4 million, down from its previous estimate of 18.9 million, Bloomberg reported in June. The financial firm expects sales to slow to 15 million in 2019 and 2020.Those trends don't worry Sewell, who said the growth of the Grapevine-Southlake market continues to drive demand for new vehicles. "That whole area is just growing unbelievably," he said.He expects his dealership to sell between 150 and 200 new BMWs a month as early as 2018. U.S. dealerships averaged 965 new vehicle sales in 2016, according to consulting firm Urban Science.“That’s why we built the dealership the size that it is,” Sewell said. He declined to say what that would translate to in revenue.  Continue reading...

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