The Tri-City Audi dealership has moved to Richland following its sale to Portland-based Town & Country.
Town & Country acquired the Audi assets from Overturf and moved the business to its Aaron Drive location, fronting Interstate 182 in Richland.
The Audi dealership is temporarily housed at the former Budget Rent-A-Car spot next to Town & Country’s BMW business.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Doug Overturf, owner and president, said his business was outgrowing its Kennewick location and he accepted an offer to sell rather than build a standalone Audi location.
Overturf retains his Kia and Volkswagen businesses at 1016 W. Columbia Drive in Kennewick and plans to upgrade the facility. No jobs are expected to be lost.
Ralph Martinez, founder and CEO of the Town & Country network of dealers, will construct a $2.5 million Audi-themed building to house the brand. Audi is marketed as the luxury line of its parent, Volkswagen. He expects the new home to debut in 8 to 24 months.
It will be neighbors to his BMW dealership as well as a separate used car business. They will collectively operate as Town & Country Auto Center.
Martinez, a lifelong car dealer who began with Chrysler, established a retailing empire that once extended to 17 franchises and 500 employees selling and servicing a variety of brands from Portland to Seattle. In recent years, he has been downshifting as Town & Country transitions to the next generation.
The opportunity to come to the Tri-Cities was a welcome shock, he said.
“This has been a lot of fun for us,” he said.
Change in new car, truck registrations 2015 to 2016* Total vehicles 3.5% Cars (-8.3%) Trucks 12.2% Detroit 3.5% Europe 2.6% Japan 3.7% Korea 3.3% *Washington Auto Outlook
Martinez and his wife moved to Richland two years ago to help son Christopher with the BMW dealership. Christopher Martinez is leading the BMW and Audi dealerships.
Martinez said the Tri-Cities has been a strong market for BMW, with sales climbing about 50 percent in the two years Town & Country has owned it. He anticipates comparable growth for the Audi business.
Martinez said the company focuses on bringing big-city service levels to the luxury car market, even if local dealers sell 20 to 30 vehicles a month, a fraction of the volume at urban dealerships.
“Coming from a metro, we understand what (luxury car) buyers want,” he said.
Audi commands a relatively small piece of the Washington new car market, but recorded sales increases in 2016. According to Washington Auto Outlook, there were 4,122 new Audi registrations in 2016, a gain of 7 percent over 2015. It represents 1.6 percent of the state’s new retail car and light truck market.
Toyota dominates the Washington market with a 16.5 percent market share.
There are 290 Audi dealers nationwide who collectively sold a record 210,000 vehicles in 2016, according to Audi of America. Audi is the fourth-largest luxury car brand in the U.S. after Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW, according to Statista.