Arizona company bringing used car dealership to Pelham

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Arizona-based used car dealership chain recently purchased a vacant former car lot on U.S. 31 in Pelham, and could move into the city as early as next month.

The DriveTime car dealership is preparing to open one of its first dealerships in the Southeast at 2205 Pelham Parkway near the Pelham Walmart between Alabama 119 and Valleydale Road.

The new dealership will occupy a 6,000-square-foot building, which sits on a nearly 2-acre plot, and will specialize in selling used cars to buyers with past credit problems.

“We are putting a pretty strong focus on the Southeast right now,” said DriveTime spokesman Jon Ehlinger. “We are looking at opening several new stores in the Birmingham area.”

The company is planning to open the Pelham dealership on Oct. 15, but the opening date could change, Ehlinger said.

“The expected opening date is set for Oct. 15, but those dates tend to move around a little bit, depending on things like construction time, stocking inventory and so forth,” Ehlinger said.

Because DriveTime also serves as an on-site financing company, it will be able to approve customers with no credit, bad credit or “substantial credit issues, Ehlinger said.

Most cars on the company’s lot will be no older than five years old, and will range in mileage between 30,000 and 85,000.

“Basically, we pull a vehicle history report and inspect every vehicle we sell,” Ehlinger said. “We offer a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty with every vehicle, so we stand behind the quality of our inventory.

“We will carry between 60 and 90 vehicles on the lot, which will range from a couple of years old to four or five years old,” Ehlinger added.

DriveTime recently held job fairs in the Birmingham metropolitan area, but is still looking to hire three more people, Ehlinger said. Once it opens, the Pelham dealership will employ about 10 or 12 people, he said.

The dealership decided to open the Pelham dealership and another one in Birmingham after studying the area’s demographics, marketing costs, available business sites and quality of life, Ehlinger said.

“Birmingham popped up as a market that was very desirable for us,” Ehlinger said. “We hope and expect it to be a very good market.”