thecarnut.typepad.com > 2007 LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW #2

LA AUTO SHOW MAIN LOBBY

LA AUTO SHOW MAIN LOBBY

Los Angeles Convention Center

Main lobby area of the Los Angeles Auto Show --- America's first official, factory-sanctioned auto show display of Smart cars can be seen in the photo's upper right. It's perhaps the single best location in the show; every show-goer must pass through this lobby at least twice during their visit. Smart's 'fortwo' model will go on-sale soon across the US, but only at dealerships which are part of the Penske Automotive Group (PAG), which is what we all used to call the United Auto Group until July, 2007, when Roger Penske decided to put his well-known and highly-respected name on the company. How big is PAG? In the US, the company has over 250 dealerships representing over 40 different brands, Smart being just the latest one. It is America's largest single automotive dealer group. More than once, Roger Penske has been asked to consider taking over the helm of General Motors, and he's always turned them down. And why not? With PAG, he has more dealerships than any manufacturer in the US (which is kind of a half-truth, because car-makers, generally, are not allowed to own dealerships in the US, owing to some very arcane and very complicated things known as 'franchise laws'). And Penske can carry and sell the car lines which he wants to present to the public, the way he wants to present them. And perhaps most importantly to Penske, who is very much a "hands-on" executive, he can hire the kind of people he thinks will do a good job (his son, Greg, runs the world's largest auto dealership, PAG's "Longo Toyota"). That dealership, in El Monte, California, not far from downtown Los Angeles, is the world's largest new car dealership, selling a new car, on average, every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Between his Longo Toyota store and nearby Lexus dealership, Roger Penske sells more than $1.5 Billion worth of Toyota cars and trucks every year. And you know what? I recommend the Toyota place all the time (most folks I know buy Toyota, not Lexus vehicles), to friends, relatives, fans and complete strangers who might approach me and ask ... And have never heard a complaint from them afterwards.

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