Bellevue’s auto row will now stretch just west of the Kennedy Freeway.
Performance will open a new Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram dealership Saturday at 7713 S. 19th Circle in the Kennedy Town Center along Chandler Road.
To celebrate its opening, the dealership will hold the Performance Community Truck Pull at 9:30 a.m. Saturday featuring a tug-of-war between community groups and two of the dealership’s finest offerings.
The Bellevue Police and Fire departments will participate together, as will Bellevue University’s soccer team and Offutt Air Force Base’s 55th Wing Security Squadron.
Teams will pull two Ram pickup trucks, which together weigh in excess of a ton.
The winning team will win a cash prize of $1,500 for its favorite charity, with second place receiving $1,000 and third $750.
The family-friendly event, which opens to the public at 9 a.m., also will offer food and face painting.
“We wanted to do something fun and kind of introduce ourselves to the community,” said Tyrone Williams, the president of the Performance-Baxter Auto Group.
Williams said the dealership brings convenience to customers who might otherwise have driven to the Performance’s Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram location in La Vista. It joins Woodhouse’s new Nissan dealership at 7801 Nebraska Drive in extending Bellevue’s auto row from Fort Crook Road west along Chandler Road.
The new dealership is Performance’s fifth in Sarpy County. The company also operates Scion, Toyota and Volkswagen dealerships in La Vista, as well as 15 other dealerships in Omaha, Lincoln and Kansas City, Kan.
The market for trucks has grown considerably, with Chrysler up 10 percent in sales.
Sales Manager Ed Fisher said improved fuel efficiency in trucks is one factor, while Williams said the aesthetics of trucks now more closely resembles that of other vehicles.
“Technology has made these trucks more friendly, more like a car,” he said.
The Bellevue dealership will initially have more than 50 employees, compared to the La Vista dealership, which employs about 120 full- and part-time employees.
“Hopefully, we’ll grow to the size of our La Vista store,” Williams said.
The store will carry about $10 million in inventory, with about 500 new and used vehicles in stock at any time. There will be a mix of new versus used varies at the Bellevue site, and the company also has access to inventory at its other metropolitan area dealerships.
Performance hopes to become a community partner, Williams said. In the past, the company has built an elementary school playground and looked for other service projects.
“We always look for opportunities,” Williams said.
One unique offering of the Bellevue dealership is a car wash, which all vehicles will pass through whether receiving an express oil change or major service.
The service center, which expects to see 150 vehicles per day, will be open until 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
A customer lounge area will feature a cafe, free Wifi, seating near and away from a television and a fireplace, public-access computers and an enclosed children’s play area.