Hodgson Newcastle has started up a new joint venture to provide dealerships with custom-built space-saving car towers.
The new business, Autopod, is a joint venture between Hodgson Newcastle and north east-based Whelan Construction and will install car storage towers that allow staff to stack demonstrators in pods on top of each other on dealer premises.
The towers are built by German company Nussbaum and Autopod has exclusive rights to the technology for the UK.
The premise of the idea came to Hodgson Newcastle managing director Steve Hodgson on trips to Germany and Japan where the use of the space-saving technology is widespread.
He said: “The biggest issue in our industry is capacity. We had plenty of space six years ago and now we’re bursting at the seams. It’s got to the point now where there isn’t the land to buy and if there was, it would be too expensive anyway.”
Autopod will also bring Nussbaum’s car satellite pre-
fabricated workshops to the UK.
The workshops and car towers can be packed down and moved to another site if a dealer needs to
relocate at any point.
Hodgson holds franchises with Mazda, Suzuki and Toyota, with the latter launching 12 models next year, six of which are all-new and will need space in the showroom.
Hodgson, Paul Platten, Autopod’s operations general manager, and Tony Whelan, Whelan Construction’s managing director, have been sitting down with German engineers at Nussbaum for the past 15 months putting together a plan for the Autopod business.
Hodgson is looking to sell the towers to other dealers who need to save on space.
He will also be promoting the idea to hotels, hospitals and the 2012 London Olympic committee.
Pricing will be bespoke on a site- by-site basis and Autopod will take care of all planning and construction issues so customers won’t have to use any other consultants during the build process.
First Autopod tower
The first Autopod tower is being built at Hodgson’s Toyota Metro-centre dealership in Gateshead in November.
It will feature a motor and counterweight powered eight- storey tower with space for 32 cars, along with ground space for a further five.
An added bonus is that the cars can be seen from a distance due to the height of the tower.
Autopod will have its own headquarters built next to Hodgson’s Gateshead site, which will be used as an example of how the technology works.
The building process will be filmed so that dealers will be able to see how the towers and car satellites are created via a video on Autopod’s website.
Hodgson said: “We can work with dealers and manufacturers so the corporate identity for each brand is incorporated into the design of the tower.”
Hodgson hopes the business will be fully operational by this time next year and is expecting it to take off when dealers can see how the tower concept works at its headquarters in Gateshead.
He said several car manufacturers and companies outside the motor industry had already been in touch to enquire about the Autopod business.