The building at 630 Chapala Street first opened its doors as a car dealership in 1958, and over the years has housed several other car brands including Porsche, Mazda, Peugeot, Renault, and now Volkswagen. Current owner and UCSB graduate Kevin Eckhart took over Santa Barbara Mazda Volkswagen in 1993, and in 1999 decided to focus solely on a single franchise and the Santa Barbara Volkswagen as we know it today was spawned. Their unique location at the corner of Chapala and Ortega may appear smaller than he average car dealership to the innocent bystander, but behind the scenes they have over 100 new Volkswagens and other used cars stored in downtown lots, allowing them to maintain a large selection of vehicles with a small footprint.
Since 1993, Kevin Eckhart has focused his 20 years of ownership on customer satisfaction, believing that satisfied customers create a healthy and successful business, especially in a small community like Santa Barbara. This dedication is evident through the many local and national awards that Santa Barbara Volkswagen has earned over the years. In 2009, they received an award for “Outstanding Team Performance in Sales and Customer Service” as well as the “Best of Santa Barbara Award” for Automobile Dealers. They have been nationally recognized each of the last two years by being named a Customer First dealer by Volkswagen, the only VW dealer in California to earn the honor in back to back years. The Customer First program ranks dealers by customer satisfaction, and in 2011, Santa Barbara Volkswagen achieved the second highest score in the nation.
Santa Barbara Volkswagen is the last new car dealer in downtown Santa Barbara. They routinely rank in the top two percent of Volkswagen dealers in customer satisfaction. Kevin Eckhart, owner of the dealership, has helped shape the past and future of Volkswagen by his involvement on the National Dealer Advisory Council, the Pacific Regional Council, and several other subcommittees for Volkswagen of America. They currently employee over ## Central Coast residents in sales, auto service, and customer service.