Ford Motor Company spent nearly a year looking for a partner to re-enter the Bayamón region, ultimately picking AutoGrupo to plant its flag through a new $5 million dealership slated to open April 1, representatives from both companies announced Tuesday.
The bar has been set high for the operation that will initially run out of temporary facilities located on Route 2 in Bayamón, as the state-of-the-art showroom and customer service facilities are developed on the six-acre lot over the next 10 months. AutoGrupo Ford will create about 100 jobs.
“We are very pleased with the appointment of AutoGrupo Ford. They have proven to be an excellent team, with all the necessary attributes and requirements to represent the Ford brand,” said Waldo Galán, regional director of Ford international business development for the Caribbean and Central America.
Ford’s partner selection process drew interest from 17 car dealers, which Galán said were whittled down to seven. AutoGrupo was ultimately selected for its potential to reach Ford’s sales expectations for the region.
“We’ve been approached by many, but we wanted to do business with Ford because they’re truly at the cutting edge and moving forward, just as we want to do in Puerto Rico,” said Gerardo Pascual one of the company’s three founding partners, during a news conference at Ford’s Guaynabo headquarters.
The future Bayamón dealership will be the first to fully adopt Ford’s latest design features. Ford’s Mayagüez and Arecibo locations are also currently undergoing $4.6 million and $2 million upgrades, respectively, to reflect the new blueprint. While Ford’s Fajardo, Ponce, Carolina and Vega Alta dealers are in line with the modernization plans, its Caguas and San Juan will likely be next in line for improvements, he said.
“Now we have nine dealers around the island, which validates our commitment to continue growing in Puerto Rico and maintain our strong second place in the local market.”
The addition of the new dealer — which Galán said is it for now — is expected to fuel Ford’s local business by 10 percent during its first year of operation, which would prolong the automaker’s growth streak. In 2009, Ford held the sixth position in the local auto industry with a market share of 7.2 percent. By 2010, it increased its presence to a 10.1 percent and closed 2011 with a 12 percent market share.
“This represents a 96.5 percent growth in sales volume for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in just three years,” he said. “The upward trend is due to a combination of factors such as the renovation of nearly all models, availability of technology to the consumer, fuel efficiency, safety, quality and, of course, a network of dealers committed to the brand.”
The new AutoGrupo Ford dealership in Bayamón will span 26,000 square feet of combined showroom and customer service facilities split between two buildings, said Pedro Hernández, President of AutoGrupo, and another of the company’s founders.
“Among other things, we’re going to initially have 10 vehicle repair areas, which will eventually expand to 26, including two for trucks,” he said.
AutoGrupo Ford in Bayamón should be selling between 100 and 150 vehicles per month, to keep up with the automaker’s expectations. However, it will not have the full Ford lineup available for sale until late May, Hernández said.
Finally, Galán announced that Ford will be introducing its redesigned Fusion and Escape models later this year.