Responding to a new-vehicle sales slowdown, some publicly owned megadealers have stepped up their used-vehicle and remarketing activities.

The sector's first online “virtual” used-car center was scheduled for opening by Sonic Automotive Group, which says it is seeking to reform the “culture” of the sales experience through greater use of the Internet.

An innovator in new marketing solutions has been Lithia Motors, which opened its first dedicated L2 used-car superstore last fall in Loveland, CO, and planned to add two more by year-end in Amarillo and Lubbock, TX, with a fourth planned by next spring in Cedar Rapids, IA.

“L2 will be on our front burner as we add dealerships, combined with an Assured Selling program that will call for strictly no-haggle pricing in new and used, F&I, parts and service,” says Lithia Chairman and CEO Sid DeBoer.

Asbury Automotive is tackling an overhaul of the customer selling process for both new-car and used-car departments. Asbury is in the process of converting all its 87 stores to the Arkona dealer-management system, which is part of DealerTrack.

DealerTrack shares a vision I have had for 20 years, about making the auto transaction totally a customer-focused process,” Asbury President and CEO Charles R. Oglesby says in an analyst conference call. “Asbury is an ideal collection of dealerships for accomplishing this, and half of our stores are to be on the Arkona system by January 1.”