Todd Caputo, who bills himself in his frequent TV commercials as the “used car king,” has sold his three Syracuse-area used-car dealerships to Sonic Automotive Inc., one of the nation’s largest automotive retailers.
Caputo’s Cicero and Cortland dealerships are now part of the EchoPark Automotive network, a Sonic subsidiary that specializes in pre-owned vehicles that are no more than four years old. His Elbridge location, which opened early last year, was closed after its acquisition by Sonic, and its employees transferred to the other two dealerships.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Sun Chevrolet in Chittenango, Caputo’s only new-car dealership, was not included in the sale and is still owned by him.
Sonic said Caputo will be involved in a key role with the broader EchoPark business, but the company did not provide details about that role.
“Since the day my father Joe Caputo opened Sun Auto Group in 1978, we’ve been providing value to our customers and there is no doubt in my mind that EchoPark Automotive is ahead of the curve,” Caputo said in a statement Friday. “We couldn’t be happier to have the Used Car King brand join the EchoPark family as we both share the same goal — to make our customers happy by offering them great cars at excellent prices.”
In an email, he declined to comment further, citing the terms of the sale.
Sonic said all 38 Used Car King employees were retained and have become employees of EchoPark. An additional 25 people have been hired, and EchoPark is looking to fill another 12 positions immediately, the company said.
“We anticipate additional hiring needs as the business matures into the second and third quarter of 2021 and beyond,” said Dan King, general manager of EchoPark Automotive.
King said the Cicero location on Route 11 will serve as a retail hub store, where used cars will be lightly reconditioned before being sold in markets throughout the Northeast as EchoPark expands its footprint. Caputo demolished his dealership in Cicero in 2017 and built in its place a $9 million, 43,600-square-foot dealership that is bigger than many new-car dealerships.
Sonic, a Fortune 500 company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, launched EchoPark in 2014. Its acquisition of Caputo’s used-car dealerships brings to 18 the number of EchoPark locations.
The company plans to expand its EchoPark footprint to 140 locations nationwide by 2025. They are expected to sell 575,000 vehicles annually and generate $14 billion in revenues by that time, Sonic said.
EchoPark’s dealerships — the company calls them stores — utilize a “haggle-free” pricing strategy in which vehicles are sold at what the company calls firm but “fair market prices with zero hidden fees,” eliminating the usual time-consuming, back-and-forth bargaining. Much of the sales process can be done online.
“EchoPark’s brand promise is centered around offering below-market pricing, high vehicle quality, and an extraordinary guest experience,” said Sonic and EchoPark President Jeff Dyke.