Rewarding Bad Behavior? Honda Dealer Plans in Texas Raise Eyebrows

You may recall news from earlier this year of All Pro Nissan and its associated dealers, most of whom starred in Episode #4391 of the seemingly never-ending series titled “Dealers Behaving Badly.”

At the time, the entities – owned in part by a consortium of former NFL players – were being taken to task by the captive finance arms of Nissan and Hyundai over allegations that parts of the dealer group sold hundreds of vehicles, worth more than $10 million, out of trust and also failed to repay floorplan loans.

So what’s the punishment for these alleged misdeeds? Why, another brand new dealership, of course!

Honda appears to be nonplussed by the allegations lodged by its peers. According to those in the know, the big H seems to be standing by a plan that calls for the opening of a 100,000+ sq.ft store in Grapevine, Texas, for the purpose of selling Accords, Civics, and CR-Vs. Alrighty, then.

From Automotive News:

Grapevine Honda is “the current candidate for this open point,” an American Honda spokeswoman wrote in an email to Automotive News. An evidence of franchise form filed with Texas for Grapevine Honda was signed in September 2017 by Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of American Honda, who has since retired.

Former NFL player Jessie Armstead and auto industry veteran Michael Saporito are working to open this potential store in Grapevine, while already holding stakes in two other Honda dealerships. Those outlets are located in the locales of Hazle and Hamilton Townships.

This, naturally, has sparked an outcry from existing Honda dealers located near to the proposed new outlet. Seeking to stop the dealership license application, a quartet of Texas Honda dealers doing business in places like Fort Worth and Arlington filed protests with the state a year ago, long before the alleged troubles surfaced at All Pro.

Here’s a fun fact with which to hit your gearhead buddies: in Texas, same-brand dealers within a 15-mile radius of a proposed new retail outlet can lodge these protests and seem to do so on grounds that the brand is already well represented in the area. All the protests described here have apparently been dismissed, some through “confidential settlements.” The mind reels with what those terms could include. Given the timeline, these dealers would have registered and subsequently settled the protests before the alleged nefarious All Pro activity was uncovered by the Hyundai and Nissan captive finance arms. One wonders if they would have been as quick to do so if they knew this was coming down the pipe.

Texas-based design firm GFF currently lists the Grapevine Honda project amongst its portfolio of work, where it is described as a 108,000 square foot dealership integrating the image requirements of Honda’s corporate identity program. According to the site, the project is set to begin construction “this year.” I’m besotted by that Honda-badged F-150 in the company’s artist rendering shown at the top of this post, by the way.

A past attempt by Armstead to secure a Toyota franchise in the area never got off the ground.

[Image: Grapevine Honda]

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