SPIELVOGEL AUTO GROUP JOINS MOUNTING USED-CAR DERBY

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Former adman Carl Spielvogel and his United Auto Group are joining the rush to develop used-car superstores, the hottest trend in automotive retailing.

United, one of the largest dealership networks in the U.S., has just opened an 800-unit used-car dealership in Jersey City, N.J., and next month will open a 500-car store in Little Rock., Ark.

LOCAL BRAND NAMES

For now, the two freestanding facilities will carry the brand names of local dealerships in the United network: the DiFeo Auto Group in New Jersey and Landers Auto Sales in Arkansas.

But as the concept expands, the United name or another brand might be used, said Mr. Spielvogel, the former Bates Worldwide chairman who left in 1994 to become chairman-CEO of New York-based United Auto.

Mr. Spielvogel said his organization is "absolutely" interested in becoming a significant player in the $100 billion used-car business, starting to see the emergence of regional retail brands that could eventually become national.

TOUGH COMPETITORS

Among those involved are electronics retailer Circuit City, with its CarMax chain, and AutoNation USA, which plans to open its first facilities this year and whose key investors include Blockbuster Entertainment founder E. Wayne Huizenga.

One player, Bill Hamlin of Hamlin, Power & Reaves, an auto marketing and training company, is taking the Wal-Mart Stores approach by targeting midsize towns instead of major metropolitan areas. Mr. Spielvogel said United is taking a segmented approach; the new Jersey City dealership will feature cars priced below $5,000.

DiFeo agency Zimmerman & Partners, Fort Lauderdale, is handling advertising for the New Jersey facility; Landers handles advertising in-house.

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