Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Buy/Sell activity among car dealers has continued at a fairly brisk pace. The trend, though, is an alarming decline in "Blue Sky" multiples among domestic franchises. A Lincoln-Mercury store near Dallas and Cadillac and Ford dealerships in upstate New York recently changed hands with no Blue Sky. The appreciated value of the dealership real estate was reportedly the driving factor behind the transactions. Meanwhile, Toyota and Lexus dealerships in Florida sold a couple of weeks ago at an estimated healthy six-times-earnings multiple and the selling dealers retained the real estate. For expert opinions on the current state of the dealership Buy/Sell market, go to www.dealersedge.com.
Audi dropped its tiny A2 last year after disappointing results over five years. But the company won't give up and wants to take another shot at BMW's MINI. Several versions are in the works. One is the S1 aimed at the MINI Cooper. The S1 will come with a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo. Six-speed manual or seven-speed gearboxes are likely.
The 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited will switch from a stretched two-door to a four-door body. The four-door Wrangler, a first for Jeep, will come with a convertible soft-top, an optional three-piece hard top, a folding windshield and removable doors. An extra 20.6 inches between axles will provide substantially more rear-seat space.
Suzuki's XL7 will be built on the Chevy Equinox platform, adding eight inches on to the back to make room for a third row. Suzuki goes its GM relatives one better with a 3.6-liter dual-overhead-cam V-6. Look for it in showrooms later this year. MSRP is expected to come in at $23,000 to $29,000 depending on options.