RICHMOND, Va. — Cox Automotive confirmed this week reports that COO Mark O’Neil plans to retire in February 2019. He’ll exit about four years after Cox’s acquisition of Dealertrack, a company he led as CEO for almost two decades.

News of O’Neil’s retirement plans was first reported by Automotive News on Sept. 24. In the article, O’Neil says Cox is “in a really good spot” and that it’s “a good time to let the next generation of leaders take over and execute the game plan.”

The executive currently works in Richmond, Va., and turned 60 this year. According to the Automotive News report, O’Neil plans to spend more time with his family, travel, and give back to the community.

“I’ve enjoyed being a part of the auto retailing business for over 30 years, from my time at CarMax, to leading Dealertrack and now Cox Automotive," O'Neil said in a statement issued to F&I and Showroom. "It’s been a fun journey and I can’t wait to see how Cox Automotive continues to transform the way the world buys, sells owns and uses cars."

O’Neil began his career in the business in the late ‘80s, serving as president of Pennsylvania-based Ertley MotorWorld. He also co-founded and led the development and rollout of CarMax Inc. There was also that year-long sting early last decade when he served as president and COO of online auto sales site Greenlight.com.

In August 2001, O’Neil was named CEO of Dealertrack — a title he held until Cox Automotive completed its acquisition of the tech firm in October 2015. And since being named executive vice president and COO of Cox Automotive in March 2016, O’Neil has served as the company’s digital evangelist.

O’Neil last spoke to F&I and Showroom for a June 2017 article. It was a conversation in which the executive laid out his vision of the future of automotive retailing. He also offered a glimpse at the sales and F&I tools Cox Automotive is developing to pave the way to the industry’s Digital Age.

“So instead of thinking of it as pure digital, it’s kind of an interesting twist. Think about it as connected retail. You’re leveraging the optimal components that are done digitally,” he said. “I mean, filling out a credit app, whether you want to get up at seven in the morning, do it at 11 at night, or do it on your lunch break, being able to do it at your convenience makes a lot of sense. And you ought to be able to do that electronically.

“It’s almost like what Best Buy and Home Depot are doing, where you do all the ordering and comparing and paying for the product online, but you actually go to the store to physically pick it up because you want it sooner or it doesn’t lend itself to shipping,” he added. “When it comes to auto retailing, I think that’s probably the way to think of it.”

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