Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said Thursday it is buying Van Tuyl Group, the largest private US auto dealer, putting the investment conglomerate into the auto business for the first time.
The group will be renamed Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, and Buffett told CNBC it could be a launching-point to buy other car dealerships.
"We're in planes, trains and automobiles now... It took a little while," Buffett said.
The value of the all-cash deal for the 78-location chain of dealerships was not disclosed, but Buffett put Van Tuyl's annual sales at $9 billion, making it the fifth biggest US dealership overall.
Larry Van Tuyl, the head of the 62-year-old family business, will become chairman of the unit under Berkshire and Van Tuyl chief operating officer Jeffrey Rachor will be the chief executive.
Larry Van Tuyl predicted annual sales of cars would rise from the current 16.4 million units annually to 18-19 million in the next three or four years, since many US consumers have yet to replace long-used vehicles in the slowly-recovering economy.