Tysons is where major trends affecting car dealerships are all converging
If you haven’t heard of Tysons Corner yet, you’re already behind the curve.
Whether it’s as a hub of car dealerships serving the booming economy of greater Washington DC, or as a microcosm of the past, present, and future of the American suburb, Tysons (as it’s being rebranded) is on the map.
It may have had humble origins as a small town outside of Washington DC, but it’s now long established as a boomtown in its own right.
All of this means that, as an auto dealer, you need to be paying attention to what’s happening there. Understanding the kind of major market shifts at play in Tysons is as vital as getting your motor vehicle dealer bond or making sure your showroom inspires your customers. This is a place where several of the biggest trends affecting auto dealers are converging.
Here are just a few of the ways Tysons is showing auto dealers around the country where the future is heading.
Innovators Like Tesla Are Getting Serious
The imminent opening of Virginia’s first Tesla dealership demonstrates two important trends. The first is that electric cars are gaining traction, even in semi-urbanized suburban regions like Northern Virginia. With sales of electric cars doubling every year for the past three years, ignoring this small but growing market segment could be a big mistake.
Next, the opening of a Tesla dealership selling directly to customers is a real challenge to the major franchise dealerships, which dominate the market. Both to their predominance and to their very business model. With legal battles between the two raging across the country, Tesla being granted permission in Tysons is a serious concern to car dealers around the region who don’t want this rule-breaker in their backyard.
There’s even a particular concern about Tesla becoming more powerful within Tysons, as dealerships are beginning to consider leaving.
Car Dealerships Are Being Pushed Out
A generation ago, car dealerships largely left DC — they fled to suburban areas like Tysons in droves. Now, that process is beginning again with dealerships cashing in and moving to areas even farther outside the city, like Chantilly, Virginia.
This isn’t all bad news. As in the past, these dealerships are profiting handsomely from selling their lots, which have functioned as great real estate investments. With property values in Tysons skyrocketing as a result of the area’s transformation from a rural farm country into the modern hub that it is today, the payoff is great.
Hopefully, if these dealers can replicate the success they had in Tysons once they’ve moved further afield, they can look forward to making a similar move as property values continue to rise in their next locations in the coming decades. But that rests on some major assumptions about the role of cars in the future.
Cars Themselves Are Being Challenged
The new Silver Line of the Washington D.C. Metro is changing transportation in Tyson
With the opening of the Silver Line of the DC Metro in 2014 being only the most obvious example, Tysons, so recently a car mecca, is challenging the car in new ways. The fundamental decision to focus on building living space instead of parking space close to the new metro stations speaks volumes.
Tysons is challenging its reputation for traffic and suburban sprawl by urbanizing and building vast new public spaces. If people living, working, and shopping in the area respond positively, it could function as a blueprint for similar regions across the country.
While the threat isn’t imminent – it’s going to take years for most of the plans to be fully realized – this is a worrying long-term trend for traditional auto dealers.
Don’t Take Your Eyes Off Tysons
So, whether you’re concerned with electric cars, transformation of the suburbs, or challenges to auto dealer franchises, it’s clear that Tysons is a place where all of these trends are colliding. This means auto dealers around the country need to stay on top of the latest developments in Tysons if they’re going to be on the cutting edge of industry changes around the country.
Whether you’re based in/around Tysons or not, we’d love to hear how these trends have affected your auto dealership. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.