LONDON, ONT. – The new home of Competition Toyota, set to be renamed North London Toyota when completed, will have all the amenities of most modern car dealerships – an expansive showroom, huge service capacity and an attractive service drive-thru.
But one advantage North London Toyota will have over its rivals is what’s beneath it: a 40,000 square foot basement with enough room for 118 vehicles.
“We figured it was easier to build up and down rather than out,” explained dealer principal Kevin Laurie. “London is in a snow belt so it will be great to have a showroom and delivery area downstairs allowing for a proper walkaround no matter what time of year.”
Laurie bought Competition Toyota about five years ago and committed to building a new facility. The store, the third oldest Toyota dealership in Ontario, according to the owner, has sat in the same spot for 42 years.
The move will see it transition to the growing northern section of London, Ont. He said the new four-acre site isn’t near any other car dealerships in an area that wasn’t even zoned for automotive sales.
Still, the data pointed him and his team that way.
“We did studies and research and found this location is where the growth in the city is coming from and where many of our current customers already live,” he said.
“This is the fastest growing area of homes worth over $400,000 in the city and we felt that having a foothold in the north and the other Toyota store [Toyotatown] in the south has adequate coverage for Toyota in the city.”
He said they had to be a little flexible with design. Given the zoning issue, the city required him to meet the community retail area designation, which essentially forced Laurie to build the facility close to the road.
“We won’t have the standard big parking lot and then the building. The building is the showcase on the lot with the huge showroom room that is about 12 feet from the main road.”
When completed, the new location will be way larger than the existing point. It will boast a 36,000-square foot main floor and the additional room in the basement.
Aside from vehicle storage, the underground will include an LED-lit vehicle delivery area. The $13-million investment will also boast a 17-car showroom, 20 service bays and a nine-vehicle service drive-thru.
Annual sales projections will climb from 650 new and 375 used to 850 new and 500 used in the new store.
Moving from a 12,000-square foot store to the nearly 80,000 square foot location provides a number of obvious benefits. Paramount to Laurie is the proximity to current customers and enlarged service capacity.
“With 20 bays, our focus will be fixed ops. And not just the cars we sell but the consumer that lives in the area that might also have a Honda or Hyundai in the driveway. The ability to service their second car in a convenient location is key.
“I’d say I’m also excited about the addition of the basement. That will be a big advantage for us and give us extra space and the ability to deliver and showcase cars in a controlled environment.”
Construction is expected to take roughly one year.