Vroom: Charlotte dealership selling $3M Swedish sports cars

Plus: Charlotte closer to MLS team?; Excelsior Club has a new buyer; Tar Heel Nation asks: What the heck is FloSports.com?

Good morning! Today is Monday, November 11, 2019. Happy Veterans Day, and thank you to those who served.

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Super-luxury automaker Koenigsegg picks Charlotte for 7th U.S. dealership; local demand for high-end cars revs up

If you’ve got $3M to burn on a super-luxury Swedish sports car, you’re in luck.

The Swedish carmaker Koenigsegg is opening a dealership at Metrolina Auto Group near Tyvola Road and I-77, a Metrolina spokeswoman confirmed to the Ledger. Metrolina — which already sells new McLarens and used Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Ferraris — just signed the paperwork in the last few weeks. The dealer doesn’t have any Koenigseggs on the lot, but “if you want to order something, we can definitely assist,” she said. She didn’t have further details.

There are just six other U.S. Koenigsegg dealerships, in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Beverly Hills. A Koenigsegg website registered by Metrolina Auto Group says “Charlotte coming soon.”

Hot wheels: Those aren’t the Great Smoky Mountains, but super-luxury sports cars from Swedish-based Koenigsegg — like this $3M Koenigsegg Jesko — could start coming to town. Metrolina Auto Group says it has signed an agreement to be one of just seven U.S. dealers.

Don’t expect to start seeing them on I-485, though. Koenigseggs are known as “hypercars,” elite sports cars with limited production runs. The company says there are only 140 in the world and that “most of us have got a better chance of being struck by lightning … than you have of running into a Koenigsegg owner in your day-to-day life.”

Limited editions, high speeds: Even if you have millions in your car-shopping budget, there might not even be anything to order at the moment. One of the most recent models, the Koenigsegg Jesko, sold out of its 125 order slots earlier this year. The starting price was $2.8M. Another model, the Koenigsegg Agera RS, is one of the fastest cars in the world, with a top speed of 278 mph.

The addition of the Koenigsegg dealership comes as other luxury carmakers are opening locations in Charlotte. There’s a new Jaguar and Land Rover dealership under construction on Independence Boulevard. A Lamborghini dealership opened nearby last year.

As much wealth as there is in Charlotte, though, nobody here has a million-dollar sports car — at least not yet, according to state DMV data obtained by the Ledger under a public records request. The most expensive car in Mecklenburg County belongs to somebody who is turning heads at the country club with a 2018 Ford GT sports car, valued at $566,000.

In 2018, there were 936 vehicles valued at more than $100,000 in Mecklenburg County — a 25% increase over two years earlier.

Of the vehicles valued at more than $100,000:

  • 120 were Porsches, mostly newer 911s

  • 119 were Mercedes, mostly G-Class SUVs or S-Class Coupes

  • 88 were Teslas, mostly model S’s and X’s

  • 51 were Range Rovers

  • There were also smaller numbers of Ferraris (47), Bentleys (43), Lamborghinis (17), Rolls-Royces (10), McLarens (seven) and Maseratis (six).

  • Heavy-duty trucks probably appeal to a different crowd, but there were 113 Freightliner trucks valued at more than $100K.

The number of Teslas is also on the rise in Charlotte, though almost 90% of them are worth less than six figures.

Reflecting that growth, Charlotte’s second Tesla supercharger station opened this month by the EarthFare in Ballantyne. On Saturday afternoon, Ballantyne resident Mohan Kodihalli pulled into it. The bank worker said he intentionally allowed the charging level to fall to low levels so he could check out the new superchargers, which are much faster than charging at home.

He bought his Tesla seven months ago and finds it “very nice to drive — very silent, quick acceleration.” And he’s noticed more on Charlotte’s streets: “As I keep driving around, I see a lot more.”

Mohan Kodihalli says he has noticed more Teslas on the streets of Charlotte since he bought his seven months ago. He charged his car at a new supercharger station by the EarthFare in Ballantyne on Saturday.

Factoid: Overall, there were about 818,000 vehicles registered in Mecklenburg in 2018, or roughly one for every resident of driving age.

Is Charlotte really ‘at the front of the line’ for soccer?

It might be time for all these big soccer fans around here to start getting excited: It looks as though Charlotte might have a good chance of bagging a Major League Soccer team by the end of the year.

That is, if you take the words of the MLS commissioner at face value.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Commissioner Don Garber said: “It is fair to say Charlotte has done a lot of work to move their bid to the front of the line.”

Let’s parse this. It’s ambiguous phrasing. Garber’s comment was interpreted by local media to indicate that Charlotte is “at the front of the line” for a new team. But the full quote could also mean that Charlotte is doing a lot of work in an attempt to move to the front of the line.

It’s like saying, “I’ve done a lot of work to organize my closet.” That could mean that you’re finished. But it could mean you’re in the middle of organizing your closet and aren’t there yet.

Even if Charlotte is at the “front of the line” for an expansion team, it could be a Jedi mind trick to tell Phoenix and Las Vegas — the other two cities thought to be in contention — to up their games. Garber did tell EPSN on Sunday that “there’s a frontrunner in the clubhouse” in the competition to become the league’s 30th team.

Who knows? City leaders and Panthers owner David Tepper appear to like Charlotte’s odds. We should find out soon enough.

Reader response

In response to a reader comment that light-rail opponent Wendell Cox’s ideas “promoted dumbness”:

  • “I applaud the Ledger for giving a place for ideas to be discussed, even ideas I may not agree with. If the author really believed that the ideas of Wendell Cox ‘promoted dumbness’ then I’m sure they would like to ‘move beyond’ such ‘simpleton arguments’ as name calling, and to rebutting what Wendell Cox said. Many of us are truly undecided about what transit should look like in our city as it grows. But when pro-rail transit folks demonize the opposition while not actually responding to anything actually said, it sure makes them look like they’re hiding something. That’s not a good look for a group holding out their hands asking for $50M for a study.”

In response to “Late fees charged on half of toll road bills”:

  • “I tried to get a transponder very early in the process, and their website was buggy and could not. So I went to their very nice new office in Monroe, which is in a very odd place, very nice people but probably overstaffed. It would be better to locate it near the entrance to the toll road to be more helpful to new users. I have heard reports from friends getting notices weeks late and thus high late fees.”

In response to “South End booms, but where to park?

  • “The solution for the guy worried about traffic when driving to the Y is simple: HE NEEDS TO BIKE TO THE GYM! Folks, especially those that complain about traffic, need to change their mindset and embrace micro-mobility solutions. One of my favorite sayings is ‘You’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.’”

  • “If only there was some sort of mass transit rail system that ran all the way through, or maybe even some of those neat scooters all over the place.”

In response to “New name for Ovens-Bojangles’ Coliseum: ‘The BOplex’”:

  • “I like calling the Coliseum the BoRound!”

  • “Waxhaw tried ‘The Haw.’ For some reason, it just didn’t catch on. BOplex sounds like a cheap exercise machine.”

In response to “Truist-Truliant truce ahead?”:

  • Truist should use this convenient excuse to come up with a better name.”

  • “Here’s hoping that the recent trend to non-descriptive names — Truist, Truliant, BoPlex — is a passing fad. What is wrong with Bank and Auditorium? That these names are confusing is illustrated by the Truist-Trulient lawsuit, based on the assertion that these names are easily confused and potentially mislead the public. Why engage in self-inflicted marketing wounds?”

In response to “Suburbs ax sales tax”:

  • “If all these affluent areas and big companies want to spend money on the arts, let them. Also, the proposal was poorly written and made it seem they could spend the additional taxes on anything they wanted. This seemed from the get-go to be a push to subsidize middle/upper-middle folks in the city and nothing for anyone else. Has there EVER been a push to LOWER sales taxes for everyone? Not that I can think of.”

In response to “SouthPark isn’t just a mall anymore”:

  • “One thing you can’t say about SouthPark Mall is that it hasn’t evolved over the years. Somebody, somewhere has to have photographic evidence of the evolution over time. I worked there in early ’90s and it looks NOTHING like it did back then. I’d love to see a photo of the lunch counter at Eckerd’s (which was right across from The Record Bar).”

In response to “Return of Popeye’s sandwich”:

  • “Enjoyed today’s issue of the Ledger! Particularly how Popeye’s is in league with Satan on doing Sunday business, keeping the Sabbath unholy, selling their ‘Satan Sandwich.’”

In brief:

  • Excelsior deal: The broker representing Charlotte’s historic Excelsior Club says a new buyer has the property under contract. He didn’t release details but said the public “is going to be really excited to see what is planned for this property” and that his understanding is that the “Excelsior is going to endure.” The club on Beatties Ford Road hosted musicians including Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. (Observer/WBTV)

  • City Council ringmasters: The agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting includes voting on the $50M study for the Lynx Silver line, approving a grant for job creation and discussing diversity, redistricting and “circus animals.”

  • Wells hires Obama aide: Wells Fargo has hired William Daley, President Obama’s former chief of staff and Commerce Secretary under President Clinton, as vice chairman of public affairs. Daley worked under new Wells CEO Charles Scharf at Bank of New York Mellon. It’s the “first significant top-level hire under Scharf, an early sign that the new CEO may bring in more of his long-time lieutenants to the scandal-plagued bank.” (Reuters)

  • Corporate tax cut vetoed: Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have cut North Carolina’s franchise tax, which is a tax on businesses based on their net worth. He signed bills increasing the standard deduction on personal income taxes and on requiring online retailers like Amazon to collect sales taxes up front on third-party sales. (WRAL/AP)

  • Truist bank sale: SunTrust has agreed to sell 28 bank branches, including 20 in North Carolina, to resolve Justice Department antitrust concerns about its merger with BB&T. Most of the N.C. banks are in the Winston-Salem and Durham-Chapel Hill areas. SunTrust and BB&T are merging to form Truist, which will be based in Charlotte. (Justice Department)

  • Mobile payments go big: An international electronics company made a $1.6B payment this summer using a mobile phone, the biggest transaction ever on Bank of America’s CashPro app, the bank said last week. “You can do a payment on an Apple Watch through our CashPro system for 500 million bucks — I’m not sure I’m capable of doing that. They don’t let me have that kind of authority,” CEO Brian Moynihan joked at a conference. (American Banker

  • Tar Heel TV troubles: UNC fans complained online after learning that Friday’s basketball game at UNC-Wilmington could be viewed only on a pay streaming service called FloSports.com. One called it “beyond ridiculous” and another wrote, “Whose bright idea was it to give this game to a streaming network that no one wants to use? Do they still have a job?” (Inside Carolina)

Taking stock

Unless you are a day trader, checking your stocks daily is unhealthy. So how about weekly? How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:

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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

The Charlotte Ledger is published by Tony Mecia, an award-winning former Charlotte Observer business reporter and editor. He lives in Charlotte with his wife and three children.