One of the nation’s largest auto dealer chains based in Metro Detroit is about to get a new owner.
The Suburban Collection has sold its dozens of dealerships in Metro Detroit to an Oregon based group looking to make big changes in the way cars, trucks and SUVs are sold.
It was recently announced that the company is not selling the entire operation, but just the Michigan dealerships to Lithia Motors of Medford, Oregon.
This big sale could also mean big changes.
The Suburban Collection auto group was started as an Oldsmobile car dealership in 1948 by Richard Fischer, father of David T. Fischer.
Over 70 years the company grew to a massive dealer organization with foreign and domestic name plates in five states and operations also in Canada.
You don’t need to travel far across Metro Detroit to see a Suburban Collection dealership.
In all, Suburban Collection has 34 locations with 56 different franchises, 2,250 employees with 33 brands and a big online presence making it the 12th largest dealer group in the country.
That is precisely what Lithia Motors which is just slightly larger is looking for.
Lithia Motors also owns the online car site Driveway and looks to move vehicles through its dealerships. Adding suburban greatly helps Driveway which is why Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs says this consolidation is the way of the future.
“Consumers have been saying for years they want to do more of the sales process online and they want pick up and delivery and things like that. Well during the pandemic that’s the only way we could sell cars and so we are seeing a more towards more of the process of like that online,” she said.
Krebs says the dealer experience is going to become more customized, hiring more tech savvy sales people and as the business changes so should the buying experience.
“Consumers who purchase their vehicles in this new way have much higher satisfaction,” said Krebs.
David Fischer Jr. who runs Suburban Collection will be staying on with the new owners and he says not only will the current employees stay with the company, he expects expansion as Driveway takes hold.