Enjoy the ride: Luxury auto sales on rolling climb in the region | nnbw.com

Enjoy the ride: Luxury auto sales on rolling climb in the region

Sally Roberts
Luxury auto dealerships cluster in south Reno on South Virginia Street.
Bill O’Drscoll/NNBW |

There’s nothing like the ride of a luxury automobile — the caress of fine leather seating; a ride so smooth it’s more like flying; music and conversation devoid of road noise interference; and technology to satisfy an astronaut.

In northwestern Nevada, the sale of luxury vehicles has been on a slow, rolling climb.

“The market doesn’t change real fast,” said Tom Dolan, founder of Dolan Auto Group, which includes the Dolan Lexus dealership.

When the Great Recession slammed other parts of the auto market, luxury slowed a little, but kept humming along.

“Very high-end vehicles didn’t really see a dip at all,” said Matt Meyer, co-owner of Bill Pearce Motors, which includes the Bill Pearce BMW dealership.

The part of the industry that did drop was the “entry level” luxury vehicle, Meyer said in a phone interview with the NNBW.

“People who before (the recession) were reaching for that, could no longer reach it,” he said. “Some of that is coming back. People are reaching for luxury again. It’s not a bad thing, especially for someone in a field where it’s important to look good.”

While an improving national economy has been a boost for the auto industry, northwestern Nevada has yet another thing going for it: strong economic and population growth.

Dolan said that luxury auto sales nationwide have been in a lull ­— something that naturally occurs every four to five years — but the increases in population and new jobs have tempered its effect in this area.

“We’ll pick up that end of it,” said Dolan, who has been in auto sales for 45 years and luxury sales since 1991.

Meyer noted that while a lot of new jobs are entering the market, including many for high-profile companies, that trend is not yet bringing an increase in executives looking for luxury vehicles. BMW sales have increased by single digits in the last few years — steady but slow.

That is a contrast to the dramatic increase he has seen at Bill Pearce Honda.

“Sales at the Honda story are absolutely fantastic,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be seeing luxury sales increase, too.”

While the sales of luxury autos overall have been on a slow and steady increase, the arrival of one type of vehicle made a huge change. In the 1990s, many luxury brands began manufacturing SUVs.

The market “changed when we got SUVs,” Dolan said. “That market has exploded.’

Meyer has seen the same trend in BMWs.

SUVs make up the largest percentage of BMW sales, Meyer said. That’s true nationally, as well as locally.

There’s a lot of reason for optimism in the luxury automobile market.

Meyers expects to see more growth in the next couple years as BMW begins to roll out redesigns.

And the economic conditions and the influx of high-tech companies, including Google, are cause for excitement.

“It’s going to get better and better,” Dolan said.