Region gets top marques

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2013
tdn penn stand
ANDY JACKSON
Auto City directors Daryn, Max and Wayne Pennington.

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Taranaki's rising economy has had another tick of approval, with top American and Italian motor vehicles on their way to the region.

A new luxury dealership is set to open in New Plymouth, and it will sell American Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, and Italy's Fiat and Alfa Romeo marques.

New premises are being developed on Gill St thanks to major expansion plans by a well-known family-owned New Plymouth business.

Max Pennington Motors Ltd, which trades as Max Pennington's Auto City, has picked up the Taranaki sales and service franchise for product imported by Fiat Chrysler New Zealand Ltd.

This new dealership will be called Auto City Prestige and will open for business early next year. It is part of a major development by the Pennington family - father Max and sons Daryn and Wayne - who are working on other parts of their existing motor dealership site to better accommodate other vehicle brands they already sell. When the project is completed, Daryn Pennington will be the dealer principal for the Holden and Mazda brands, Wayne Pennington will be responsible for Nissan and Suzuki, while Max Pennington has come out of retirement to be the initial dealer principal for Auto City Prestige.

"I couldn't resist the challenge," said Max Pennington, who created Auto City in 1986.

"I just love cars, and I've always wanted to see our company franchised to sell some product that is just a little bit more prestige. At the same time, we didn't want to gain any franchises that would penalise what we have already got.

"I think we've achieved that with the Fiat Chrysler product. For example the Jeep brand offers some very classy SUVs, Alfa Romeo is prestige European product, and the Fiat brand offers commercial vans."

The expansion should also be seen as a mark of confidence in the Taranaki economy, said Daryn Pennington.

"Things are tracking very well, and we think Taranaki is in for very good times for at least the next two or three years. In fact it's started already - for example, our new vehicle sales are up 35 per cent this year, and we have hired a number of new staff."

Fiat Chrysler NZ Ltd sales and marketing manager Greg MacDonald said his company was pleased to be entering the Taranaki market. "We're thrilled to have Max and his family with us - we think that our brands will fit in very well with the other brands his company sells. And we see Taranaki as a key part of the country for us as we grow our market presence in New Zealand."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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