Dutch company buys into indiGO Auto Group

on Jul7

Blue: Pon is focused on “how the car business is really the mobility business.”

IndiGO Auto Group is positioning itself to become a player in the mobility world by forming an alliance and receiving an investment from Pon Holdings BV, a transportation and mobility company and luxury brand distributor in the Netherlands, indiGO said Thursday.

The size of the investment and of the stake that Pon is taking in indiGO were undisclosed.

IndiGO Auto Group, of Houston, has 10 dealerships in Houston, St. Louis and Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, Calif. The group sells 11 luxury brands: Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Maserati, BMW, McLaren and Lamborghini.

The alliance will change little at the dealership level, indiGO CEO Todd Blue told Automotive News. But the undisclosed investment amount and the strategic partnership will help the dealership group “grow in a larger, more thoughtful way than maybe we would have been able to do by ourselves,” through organic growth and acquisitions, Blue said.

Mobility

Pon is focused on “how the car business is really the mobility business,” Blue said.

Blue did not elaborate on mobility projects indiGO and Pon plan to work on together, but he said indiGO is prepared to adapt to the changing field of mobility.

“We have to look at the car business as the mobility business. That is a huge reason why we selected Pon to be our partner and why they selected us because we have a tremendous focus on that,” he said. “The focus is specifically this: being flexible and adaptable to the change and to be able to quickly in a nimble way be whatever mobility is. It allows us to maximize our current luxury portfolio and utilize [Pon’s] knowledge in other sectors to create a holistic mobility company at the retail level.”

“IndiGO Auto Group provides us with the ideal platform into the U.S. vehicle market,” a Pon spokesman said in a statement. “Our combined expertise in luxury vehicle sales, along with indiGO’s outstanding reputation and established leadership position in several key regions, offer a great starting point upon which we expect to achieve thoughtful but significant business growth in the North American market in coming years.”

Said Blue: “This is not a normal public company. This is not private equity. This is not Warren Buffett. This is not any of that.

“This is a family business in Europe as a distributor that has chosen to come into retail automotive and partner with indiGO to focus on a very concentrated area and to take a leadership role and build on what indiGO has done.”

Pon history

Pon does business in 32 countries and has more than 14,000 employees. Pon imports and sells the Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti brands in the Netherlands, and with indiGO the company plans to grow organically and through acquisitions in North America, the statement said. IndiGO’s and Pon’s North American headquarters are in Houston.

Pon’s first venture into the automotive business was in 1947 when Ben Pon Sr., co-founder of the company, became the first person to ship Volkswagens to the U.S, according to the company’s website. A sketch made by Pon inspired the engineers at Volkswagen to develop the VW Type 2 Transporter — more commonly known as the VW van or bus. Ben Pon Jr. was a Formula One driver.

Pon Holdings has been the distributor for Volkswagen in the Netherlands for 70 years and for Porsche for 68 years. Pon Automotive ranks No. 11 on Automotive News Europe‘s list of the top 50 independent European dealership groups with sales of 2.5 billion euros in 2015. The list is compiled by automotive distribution researchers ICDP for Automotive News Europe.

More recently, it has ventured into other mobility ventures. In 2014, Pon acquired Greenwheels, a car-sharing company in the Netherlands, for example. This year, Pon acquired Faraday Bicycle, an electric bike company in San Francisco. It sells two other electric bicycle brands, as well as traditional bicycles.

Pon operates in a large number of sectors, from vehicles and bicycles to forklift trucks, tires, earthmoving machinery and generators.



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