|Muller Acura will build on busy U.S. 30 auto corridor|
October 15, 2009
MERRILLVILLE -- While lackluster sales in 2009 have caused many automakers to scale back production and close dealerships across the country, Honda is looking to grow its luxury car division, Acura, and has set its eyes on U.S. 30's busy dealership row.
Muller Acura of Merrillville will break ground on a 22,000-square-foot showroom and auto service building in spring 2010 on eight acres just west of Schepel Buick-GMC-Cadillac, with plans to open the dealership next fall or winter, its president, Glenn Muller said Tuesday.
"This will be the latest generation of Acura design facilities. We'll have 300 to 400 new and used cars total in the showroom and on our lot," Muller said. He said he would initially hire 20 to 30 sales and service employees.
Muller said Acura made the decision to locate in Northwest Indiana, and asked its dealerships if they wanted to open a location here. Muller said he was chosen from the interested dealerships.
David Lasser, of Commercial In-Sites real estate, said the land was purchased from Schepel for an undisclosed amount. He said Muller was mostly interested in the U.S. 30 corridor, where his "biggest competition lies."
Lexus and Cadillac dealerships are both located on the corridor.
Muller said while Acura currently is considered a Tier II luxury car, behind Tier I, consisting of Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes, the automaker plans to move up the ladder with its 2010 line and beyond.
"Acura has made a commitment to go to the Tier I luxury line. As we redesign the product line, we'll be going to Tier I," Muller said.
Muller currently operates Muller Acura in in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and Muller Honda in Highland Park, Ill. He has been in the auto business for more than 30 years, but this is his first venture into Northwest Indiana.
"It's a great market. I'm very excited about it," he said.
Noting the tumultuous year the auto industry has gone through, with several dealerships on U.S. 30 and elsewhere in the region closing or losing their ability to sell new car lines, Lasser said this is a positive move for the industry and Northwest Indiana. "There's a light at the end of the tunnel, that an auto dealership is interested in Merrillville," Lasser said.