A new Volkswagen dealership is rolling into the region.
Basil Volkswagen of Lockport plans to open this summer in the vacant former home of Basil Toyota on South Transit Road, said Michael Basil, the dealership principal. Basil Toyota previously moved into a refurbished location next door.
This will be the fourth Volkswagen dealership in Buffalo Niagara, but the only one in Niagara County.
“We’ve been chasing this thing well over a year,” Basil said. “There was some extreme competition for this [dealership].”
About $4 million will be poured into the former Toyota location, at 6179 South Transit Road, to create the Volkswagen dealership, Basil said. About half of the old facility will be torn down, and another 20 percent of the existing space will be gutted, as the facility is remodeled.
“We really, really like Volkswagen,” Basil said. “We like the reputation, we like the quality, we like the direction the company is going with their new products.”
Last year, Volkswagen’s U.S. sales increased 35 percent, and it more than doubled its 2009 volume. Germany-based Volkswagen Group has set ambitious goals, such as selling 1 million vehicles (counting both Volkswagen and Audi brand vehicles) in the U.S. by 2018, compared with about 577,000 last year. It also aims to be the leader in global sales by 2018; Volkswagen was No. 3 last year, behind Toyota and General Motors.
A Volkswagen spokesman could not be reached to comment Tuesday.
Buffalo Niagara’s three Volkswagen dealers sold 1,594 new units in 2012, up 20.5 percent from 2011, according to the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association. The three are: Northtown in Amherst, Schmitt’s in Bowmansville and Volkswagen of Orchard Park.
Basil Volkswagen projects sales of 500 new vehicles and 400 used vehicles in its first year of business. The dealership will start with about 25 employees and expects that number will grow to about 50 in five years.
The new dealership, which Basil hopes will debut in August, will add to the “automotive row” that has developed in Lockport. Basil said the town has proved to be a good place to do business. “It’s a very good community with great people, and they like to support the businesses that are in town.”
Basil in 2001 acquired the Toyota dealership in Lockport and continues to own it. He said he believes that dealership’s track record helped him prevail in the competition for the new Volkswagen dealership.
The Toyota and Volkswagen brands complement each other, he said, with Volkswagen promoting clean-burning diesel cars and Toyota emphasizing hybrid technology.
The new Volkswagen dealership will feature the automaker’s new “White Frame” design, which gives cars prominent spots at the front of the showroom. “Volkswagen is extremely exacting on how the dealerships are built and laid out,” Basil said.