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$2.7M Wyler project to add 22 jobs

Auto sales up at Springfield dealership and nationwide.

Jeff Wyler Auto Mall will bring 22 jobs to two new Springfield locations by this fall as part of a $2.7 million expansion.

The auto dealer is building two showrooms at the former Forever Sports site at 2237 W. First St. — a 26,000-square-foot space for Chevrolet vehicles and a 23,000-square-foot Toyota show room.

The total project will cost more than $1.9 million to construct, according to its building permit, plus the $800,000 cost to purchase the land, according to Clark County Auditor’s Office records.

Sales have picked up across all Wyler brands — as they are across the U.S. — and the dealership is looking to maximize opportunities for sales, said Jay Lawrence, Jeff Wyler general manager.

The dealership’s current location on Hillcrest Avenue draws people from Clark, Champaign, Greene and Montgomery counties, Lawrence said.

The two new sites will increase business in that part of the busy Bechtle Avenue shopping corridor, said Bryan Heck, city planning and zoning administrator.

“It just increases and expands upon existing businesses already located in the corridor and makes it easier for patrons of that (the dealership) to access their site and look at their inventory,” he said.

The dealership has started hiring and will eventually add up to 22 employees to work at all three Jeff Wyler locations in Springfield. Lawrence said the business is hiring service managers, technicians and sales staff.

The project comes as a result of manufacturer demands, as well as improved auto sales.

“We don’t have enough space here for all the franchises we have,” Lawrence said. “We need to upgrade the facilities because these are dated … The manufacturers want separation, they don’t want to share showrooms or share service.”

Manufacturers want exclusivity as a way to gain more market share from other competitors, said Ray Magliano, a senior economist for global information company IHS.

“Manufacturers have been trying to weed out weaker dealerships and trying to be more exclusive,” Magliano said.

Auto sales are up across all brands, and are now on pace to sell 15.2 million vehicles this year, up from 10.5 million units in 2010, Magliano added. Pre-recession sales were at 17 million vehicles.

Sales might dip slightly in the next several months because of uncertainty in Washington, he said, but the auto market itself remains strong.

“Production through this cycle here has been a lot stronger than (U.S.) sales and demand,” Magliano said. “We’re not building inventory, we’re exporting more and importing less.”

Even so, pent up demand exists for new vehicles. The cars and trucks on the road now are close to 11 years old, Magliano said, and it is often cheaper to dispose of those older vehicles and buy newer, more fuel efficient ones.

Lawrence estimates the two new showrooms will be complete in late summer and early fall. Construction started last year.

The Chevy showroom will be finished in mid-August, and the Toyota one in November.

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