Sonic Automotive, the fourth-largest auto dealership group in the U.S., is entering the San Antonio market for the first time with plans to build five locations of its EchoPark used car retail brand in the next two years.
The North Carolina company bought four acres of land last week at the booming intersection of Interstate 10 and Loop 1604 for an EchoPark dealership that would be located between iFly San Antonio and Topgolf San Antonio, county property records show. It bought the land from Georgia-based developer Thomas Enterprises, which had owned it since 2005.
Sonic is also in the process of buying land for EchoPark dealerships in the areas around Boerne, New Braunfels, SeaWorld San Antonio and the intersection between Loop 410 and Interstate 35 on the East Side, said Jeff Dyke, Sonic’s executive vice president of operations. The company plans to build them all at the same time, breaking ground next summer and finishing around the beginning of 2018.
Dyke described EchoPark dealerships as “like a mix between a Starbucks and an Apple Store,” with employees whom he said are less pushy than the traditional image of a used-car salesperson because they are paid salaries, not by commission.
EchoPark has a website where customers can shop for vehicles online before coming to the store, Dyke said. Its employees carry tablets allowing them to complete customers’ purchases in less than an hour, he said.