President Obama has nominated Northern Virginia car dealer Don Beyer to be U.S. ambassador to both Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Beyer, who owns dealerships selling Volvo, Kia, Land Rover and Subaru brands, served as Virginia’s lieutenant governor from 1990 to 1998. He lost the general election for governor in 1997 to Republican James Gilmore III.

Beyer, 58, also was the American International Automobile Dealer Assn. chairman in 2006.

The appointment is considered a reward for the active role Beyer and his wife Megan played in Obama’s campaign, raising more than $1.5 million for the Illinois senator’s run for the White House in 2008.

Beyer also managed Obama’s transition team’s agency review at the Commerce Dept.

Should the U.S. Senate confirm Beyer’s appointment, he will be the second auto dealer this decade to serve as a U.S. ambassador. Robert Tuttle, co-managing partner of the Tuttle-Click Automotive Group, served as ambassador to the U.K. under President Bush from 2005 to 2008.

cbanks@wardsauto.com